Viewpoint: Wolves play an important role in curbing CWD
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease that is now found in the Wisconsin deer herd. So far it has been contained mostly to one area of the state. The disease acts much like mad cow disease. If the disease should spread through the deer herd in the state, dear would be unusable. No human could take a chance of death by eating this venison.
The wolf is the most effective way of containing this disease. Canids in fact are immune to CWD. It has no effect on them. And perhaps the reason this scourge has not spread is that the wolf as a carnivore is preventing that spread.
The presence of the wolf forces deer to become more furtive, more alert and to move their locations more often. That helps prevent ground contamination buildup of disease organisms, as well as preventing overbrowsing of habitat. Because of the deer’s greater wariness to match that of the wolf’s, deer numbers appear to be down. But actually numbers aren’t down. Deer are wilder, warier, even around humans.
There are many deer tracks, but the track makers aren’t visible; however, they are likely watching us, watching the wolves. And if there is a sick deer stricken with CWD, the wolves will dispatch that deer. We never see an unhealthy deer. In this respect, wolves are doing us a great service. Deer and wolf area well suited match. The deer are now as elusive as the wolf. We may have to perfect our skills to see either one. Both species will survive, if we don’t upset the balance of that match.
Jerry Rau, Rhinelander