Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for

 

Date of this Version

October 2000

Abstract

Urban white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations can influence the epidemiology of many zoonotic diseases because they affect the distribution and abundance of pathogens and vectors. The risk of emerging zoonotic pathogens increases with human populations, as people have closer contact with wildlife in urban environments. We used radio-telemetry to study deer behavior and population dynamics in Chicago, IL. We monitored home-range use and habitat patterns for 43 radio-collared deer from 2 study sites, 1995-1999. Deer serology was conducted to test for various zoonotic diseases, such as babesiosis, encephalitis, and toxoplasmosis for 12 study locations. To analyze potential disease exposures for deer, we used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to compare land cover characteristics for home-ranges and point location patterns for seropositive and seronegative deer. From our preliminary analysis of toxoplasmosis, we conclude that the combined use of epidemiology, radio-telemetry, and GIS tools appears promising for understanding zoonotic patterns and ultimately for predicting and minimizing disease to humans.