Effects of low-density feeding on elk–fetus contact rates on Wyoming feedgrounds

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



High seroprevalance for Brucella abortus among elk on Wyoming feedgrounds suggests that supplemental feeding may influence parasite transmission and disease dynamics by altering the rate at which elk contact infectious materials in their environment. We used proximity loggers and video cameras to estimate rates of elk-to-fetus contact (the primary source of brucellosis transmission) during winter supplemental feeding. We compared contact rates during high-density and low-density (LD) feeding treatments that provided the same total amount of food distributed over different areas. Low-density feeding led to >70% reductions in total number of contacts and number of individuals contacting a fetus. Proximity loggers and video cameras provided similar estimates of elk–fetus contact rates. Elk contacted fetuses and random control points equally, suggesting that elk were not attracted to fetuses but encountered them incidentally while feeding. The modeled relationship between contact rate and disease prevalence is nonlinear and LD feeding may result in large reductions in brucellosis prevalence, but this depends on the amount of transmission that occurs on and off feedgrounds.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of low-density feeding on elk–fetus contact rates on Wyoming feedgrounds
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.331
Volume 76
Issue 5
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Wildlife Management
First page 877
Last page 886
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