Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Pennsylvania
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Pennsylvania Project

Assessment of movement of prions across the captive-wild interface

August 2021 - August 2023


Participating Agencies

  • USDA National Wildlife Research Center

Pennsylvania has detected chronic wasting disease (CWD) in captive and wild white-tailed deer since 2012. Since first detection occurred in the same year in both captive and wild deer, it is difficult to ascertain the role the captive-wild interface has on disease transmission in the state. Since 2012, over 10 captive facilities and 250 wild deer have tested positive for CWD. Considering Pennsylvania is second only to Texas in the number of captive facilities statewide, assessment of various components of the captive-wild interface appears warranted. Previous studies have documented crows were able to transmit infectious prions responsible for CWD in a controlled laboratory setting but field evaluation of this possibility has yet to be tested. Furthermore, limited information exists as to species’ use of captive facilities or areas surrounding these facilities to evaluate the role these species play, if any, of movement of prions around the landscape.