Research Suggests Chronic Wasting Disease Not a Factor in Deer’s Decline

July 21, 2014

July 19, 2014
By Denver Post Opinion

Re: “Deer declining across Colorado and West,” July 14 news story.

While it is unfortunate to read that wild deer populations are currently declining in Colorado, it is inaccurate to point to chronic wasting disease (CWD) as a significant factor in the drop.

In 2010, researchers at Colorado State University estimated CWD effects on mule deer population between 2006 and 2008. They concluded that CWD’s effects “seem to be sufficiently small that they can be omitted in estimating the influences of CWD on population growth rate.”

Further, testimony offered by the Colorado Division of the Wildlife Research Center stated that “at a population level it’s been difficult to demonstrate any effect.”

CWD is often used as a political and PR weapon against private deer farms, but it’s important to understand that the disease is rare, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, and that there are many other factors behind the decline in deer populations, such as weather and predation.

James C. Kroll, Nacogdoches, Texas

The writer is a professor at Stephen F. Austin State University’s College of Forestry and Agriculture.

This letter was published in the July 20 edition.

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