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 Home>News Archive>2012>March>Headline News>

Wildlife field day features research on bluetongue disease in deer

[Image: Lane Foil presents]

News Release Distributed 03/19/12

CLINTON, La. – New research that may lead to combating the disease bluetongue in deer was featured at the LSU AgCenter’s wildlife field day at the Bob R. Jones – Idlewild Research Station in Clinton on March 17.

LSU AgCenter veterinary entomologist Lane Foil reported that he has begun research at the station on bluetongue, which plagues white-tailed deer as well as many other ruminant animals.

Bluetongue virus is transmitted by culicoides – biting midges. More than 4,000 species are present in Louisiana. Cattle are reservoirs of the disease, Foil said, so the researchers will be testing cattle on the station as sentinels to identify when the disease is in the area.

Scientists hope they can identify deer with immunity to the disease and then develop vaccines to prevent the disease from infecting Louisiana deer.

Earlier AgCenter research that showed that live semen could be harvested from dead bulls has been used to harvest semen from dead deer, said Dearl Sanders, resident coordinator at the station.

Semen collected from a trophy buck in Illinois was used to inseminate six does at the station, and they now are pregnant, Sanders said, showing a sonogram of one.

The semen from the Illinois deer provided 200 semen samples, he said. And with a success rate of deer insemination at about 60 percent, the samples could lead to more than 100 pregnancies, which often result in twins.

“We can become the repository for this genetic material and reproduce offspring from ‘giant’ deer in the wild,” Sanders said.

Scott Durham, deer program manager with Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, presented first-year data from a research project that is measuring the growth of plant species in particular areas and matching the plants with the nutrient requirements of deer.

“Understanding habitat quality is an important component of deer management,” he said.

Samples plants in various state habitats and measured new growth of plants that deer could eat to predict deer capacity for each habitat, Durham said. “It’s not quantity but quality of feed sources that make a habitat important for deer populations.”

In other presentations, Justin Thayer, a Mississippi Deer Program biologist talked about the history of Mississippi antler regulations and their effect on deer harvests. And Rod Pinkston of Jager Pro of Columbus, Ga., presented information about his company’s hog control system.

The field day was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, the Quality Deer Management Association and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. It attracted more than 100 individuals from a radius of 80 to 100 miles of the research station, said Don Reed, LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist.

Rick Bogren
Last Updated: 3/19/2012 2:03:53 PM

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