Chronic wasting disease is a fatal, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy found among cervids. Spread of the disease across the landscape is believed to result from movements (dispersal, exploratory, transient, or migratory) of infected deer, serving as the vectors for the disease. We document an unusual long-distance movement of a young female, out of the chronic wasting disease eradication zone in south-central Wisconsin. This type of movement could function as a rapid, long-distance dispersing mechanism for the disease only if the following conditions are met: the deer is infected and shedding prions, the deer directly contacts other deer and transmits secretions carrying an infectious dose of prions, or an infectious dose of prions is transmitted to the environment and taken up by other deer. Despite lower prevalence rates of chronic wasting disease among young deer, we believe managers should not dismiss deer making long-distance movements such as we report, as they could serve as potential long-distance vectors of the disease.
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Vol. 71 • No. 5