WGF Presents at CWD Symposium in Colorado

WI Green Fire, August 18, 2023

by Mike Foy, WGF Wildlife Work Group Member

Thanks to generous assistance with travel expenses by an anonymous donor, Mike Foy was able to represent Wisconsin’s Green Fire at the 4th International Chronic Wasting Disease Symposium in Denver, Colorado from May 30th to June 2nd. 

While there, Mike presented a poster he prepared with WGF Wildlife Work Group co-chair Tom Hauge encouraging use of the federal USDA Farm Bill to incentivize landowners and hunters in managing chronic wasting disease (CWD). 

poster on conservation incentives, CWD, grazing

Mike Foy and Tom Hauge’s poster for the CWD Symposium in 2023

The CWD symposium had the feel of a relatively small, intimate gathering, attracting some 400 participants.  Mike said it has been many years since he attended a conference where there was just a single session offered at any one time, which meant you could relax and attend every presentation if desired, without feeling you should be in multiple places at once. 

Mike Foy with Tyler Harms, Iowa DNR

Mike Foy, WGF with Tyler Harms, Iowa DNR

Session topics included Prion Biochemistry, Surveillance & Testing, Disease Management, Environmental Contamination, Transmission, Intervention/Prevention, Human Dimensions, Epidemiology, and Pathogenesis/Strains.  There was also an interesting state/provincial disease management roundtable held one evening. 

As in previous symposiums, the presentations leaned heavy on basic CWD epidemiology such as prion biochemistry, genetics, and disease transmission and surveillance; and relatively lighter towards practicable management approaches to prevent or control disease. 

line graph on CWD and deer in Iowa County WI on a screen in front of an audience of people

Presentation by Daniel Walsh on CWD and deer in Iowa County, WI

Still, there were some fascinating papers, including use of trained dogs to detect CWD infection in deer carcass parts and deer and predator feces, RT-QuIC analysis of swabs to determine if infected animals had passed through meat processing facilities, and progress on producing a “quatro” form of the PrP prion that would produce an immune response while being too big to be infectious.  In the words of the author, it will hopefully “lead to a CWD vaccine that won’t simply kill most of its recipients”. 

Mike also found it encouraging that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sent at least 9 administrators, researchers, and management staff to the symposium. Hopefully, we’re turning back towards a renewed focus on active CWD management in Wisconsin. 

 

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