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

Wisconsin Wildlife Project

Factors affecting CWD transmission: A comparison of CWD epizootics in Wisconsin and Illinois

August 2005 - August 2010


Participating Agencies

  • National Wildlife Health Center
  • Associate Director, USGS-BRD

The broad objectives of this research are to identify landscape and biological factors associated with the patterns of CWD infection in white-tailed deer across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. An important aspect of this study is to compare differences in disease transmission between the relatively continuous deer habitat of south-central Wisconsin and the fragmented habitat of south-eastern Wisconsin/northern Illinois. Specific project objectives include: 1) Evaluate existing spatial deer populations, habitat characteristics, and disease prevalence data to identify study sites, evaluate helicopter and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) aerial survey methods to estimate deer density, and compile data on deer harvest and removal for study sites. Evaluate biases in deer age from tooth wear and cementum annuli ages on estimation of disease transmission rates. 2) Assemble comprehensive GIS data layers that include land cover/land use, topography, soil types, deer habitat, and features such as waterways, highways, and railroad right-of-ways. 3) Develop maps which relate the deer density, GIS, and the CWD prevalence data for study sites and evaluate spatial-temporal age-prevalence relationships to determine factors affecting disease transmission rates, with emphasis on density vs frequency dependent transmission and difference between continuous and fragmented deer habitats. 4) Based on the results in Objective 3, develop predictive models to develop and evaluate adaptive approaches for CWD management or control.