Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 51:58-67; 2019


Copyright © 2019 The Great Plains Natural Science Society


Establishing baseline values for pathogen exposure and nutritional indices is necessary to monitor population health. However, little is known about white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) pathogen exposure and nutritional condition in the Northern Great Plains. Our objective was to assess pathogen exposure and establish nutritional indices for female white-tailed deer in Dunn and Grant counties, North Dakota and Perkins County, South Dakota. During 2014, we collected blood serum from 150 adult female white-tailed deer. Pathogens with the highest antibody prevalence included West Nile Virus (WNV; 85%), epizootic hemorrhagic disease (48%), and malignant catarrhal fever (32%). Serum values for creatine kinase, globulin, glucose, potassium, and lactate dehydrogenase in all three study areas were higher than reference ranges while sodium was low in Grant County relative to Dunn and Perkins counties. We speculate that high exposure of WNV and high potassium values combined with low sodium values may affect neonate survival in Grant County. However, regional differences in pathogen exposure, their connection to serum values, and their potential interactive effects on survival are not well understood.