Mountain lions and CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is decimating deer, elk and moose populations throughout the United States. CWD, if you’re not already familiar, is a fatal brain disease caused by malformed proteins called prions. This disease is incurable and highly contagious. It is easily spread from animal to animal, or through contact with vegetation that has been contaminated by feces, urine or saliva.

As deer, elk and moose populations rise due to the lack of predators in the eastern states, CWD is beginning to spread at an alarming rate. So what can be done to slow or halt its transmission?

A recent study suggests that mountain lions may be part of the solution. The study concluded that mountain lions were selecting for adult mule deer that were infected with CWD in areas where the disease is present. Researchers believe that mountain lions can detect subtle behavioral changes in affected deer that may be evident before a physical decline appears. Additionally, mountain lions often consumed up to 85 percent of the carcass, reducing the likelihood of further transmission.

While mountain lions alone will not stop the spread of CWD entirely, they’ll certainly do their part to help!

 

Denise Peterson

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