Hunting can affect the spread of wildlife disease

Hunting can affect the spread of viruses among mountain lions. Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Wildlife managers know that hunting can affect wildlife population dynamics. But what about its effects on disease? In a recent study published in Nature, researchers discovered that hunting can also affect disease transmission among mountain lions (Puma concolor). In what they describe as a “unique landscape-scale quasi-experiment,” researchers looked at feline immunodeficiency virus in the cats. They found that without hunting pressure, males played a greater role in spreading the disease. The lack of hunting also increased the viral population growth rate and the role of evolutionary forces on the virus. “This study shows that routine wildlife management can have impacts on pathogen transmission and evolution not previously considered,” the researchers concluded.

Read the study in Nature.