Wisconsin scientists will outfit as many as 100 deer with radio collars to track their movements.
Researchers are also hoping to learn about their social groups and figure out how a plan to kill thousands of them will affect habitat and other animals.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will begin collaring deer in September in the area near Mount Horeb. That's where 24 deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
Researchers armed with Global Positioning System units, transmitters and compasses will stalk them through the countryside.
The study is expected to last five years.
It could also help researchers find out whether the disease is more prevalent by age or gender and whether some deer are less prone to infection.
The disease also has been reported in Nebraska.
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Chronic Wasting Disease
- To date, chronic wasting disease has been found only in members of the deer family in North America. Animals include: Rocky Mountain Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and black-tailed deer.
- There is ongoing research to explore the possibility of transmission of chronic wasting disease to other species.
- Most cases of chronic wasting disease occur in adult animals.
- The disease is progressive and always fatal.
- The most obvious and consistent clinical sign of chronic wasting disease is weight loss over time.
- Behavioral changes also occur in the majority of cases, including decreased interactions with other animals.
What Causes chronic wasting disease?
- The agent responsible for chronic wasting disease has not been completely characterized.
- There are three main theories on the nature of the agent that causes chronic wasting disease:
- The agent is a prion, an abnormal form of a normal protein, known as cellular prion protein, most commonly found in the central nervous system.
- The agent is an unconventional virus.
- The agent is a virino, or "incomplete" virus composed of nucleic acid protected by host proteins. The chronic wasting disease agent is smaller than most viral particles and does not evoke any detectable immune response or inflammatory reaction in the host animal.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture contributed to this report.