New publication: Hunting strategies to increase detection of chronic wasting disease in cervids

By Atle Mysterud, Petter Hopp, Kristin Ruud Alvseike, Sylvie L. Benestad, Erlend B. Nilsen, Christer M. Rolandsen, Olav Strand, Jørn Våge, and Hildegunn Viljugrein in Nature Communications. Open Access.


The successful mitigation of emerging wildlife diseases may involve controversial host culling. For livestock, ‘preemptive host culling’ is an accepted practice involving the removal of herds with known contact to infected populations. When applied to wildlife, this proactive approach comes in conflict with biodiversity conservation goals. Here, we present an alternative approach of ‘proactive hunting surveillance’ with the aim of early disease detection that simultaneously avoids undesirable population decline by targeting demographic groups with (1) a higher likelihood of being infected and (2) a lower reproductive value. We applied this harvesting principle to populations of reindeer to substantiate freedom of chronic wasting disease (CWD) infection. Proactive hunting surveillance reached 99% probability of freedom from infection (<4 reindeer infected) within 3–5 years, in comparison to ~10 years using ordinary harvest surveillance. However, implementation uncertainties linked to social issues appear challenging also with this kind of host culling.

Nature Communications
Volume 11, Article number: 4392 (2020)
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18229-7
Publication webpage.

Atle Mysterud*, Petter Hopp§, Kristin Ruud Alvseike#, Sylvie L. Benestad§, Erlend B. Nilsen¤, Christer M. Rolandsen¤, Olav Strand¤, Jørn Våge§, and Hildegunn Viljugrein*

* Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. See the publication webpage for full author information.

§ Norwegian Veterinary Institute, P.O. Box 750 Sentrum, NO-0106, Oslo, Norway

# Norwegian Food Safety Authority, Head Office, P.O. Box 383, N.2381, Brumunddal, Norway

¤ Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), P.O. Box 5685 Torgarden, NO-7485, Trondheim, Norway

Published Sep. 1, 2020 1:10 PM - Last modified Mar. 5, 2021 9:33 AM