Human alteration of landscapes can affect the distribution, abundance, and behavior of wildlife. We explored the effects of human land use on the prevalence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations residing in north-central Colorado. We chose best approximating models estimating CWD prevalence in relation to differences in human land use, sex, and geographic location. Prevalence was higher in developed areas and among male deer, suggesting anthropogenic influences on the occurrence of disease. We also found a relatively high degree of variation in prevalence across the three study sites, suggesting that spatial patterns in disease may be influenced by other factors operating at a broader, landscape scale. Our results suggest that multiple factors, including changes in land use, differences in exposure risk between sexes, and landscape-scaled heterogeneity, are associated with CWD prevalence in north-central Colorado.
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Human land use influences chronic wasting disease prevalence in mule deer