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Utilizing hunter harvest effort to survey for wildlife disease: a case study of West Nile virus in greater sage-grouse

August 20, 2014

Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; sage-grouse) are highly susceptible to infection with West Nile virus (WNV), with substantial mortality reported in wild populations and in experimentally infected birds. Although sage-grouse are hunted throughout much of their range, they have also recently been considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. We used blood samples collected on filter-paper strips during the 2006–2010 Oregon, USA, annual sage-grouse hunt to survey for specific WNV-neutralizing antibodies that indicate a previous infection with WNV. During this period, hunters submitted 1,880 blood samples from sage-grouse they harvested. Samples obtained were proportional for all 12 Oregon sage-grouse hunting units. Laboratory testing of 1,839 samples by the WNV epitope-blocking enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (bELISA) followed by plaque reduction neutralization test on bELISA-positive samples yielded 19 (1%) and 1 (0.05%) positive samples, respectively. These data provided early baseline information for future comparisons regarding the prevalence of WNV-specific neutralizing antibodies in sage-grouse in Oregon. This methodology may provide other states where sage-grouse (or other species) populations are hunted and where WNV constitutes a species conservation concern with a viable option to track the relative prevalence of the virus in populations.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Utilizing hunter harvest effort to survey for wildlife disease: a case study of West Nile virus in greater sage-grouse
DOI 10.1002/wsb.472
Authors Robert J. Dusek, Christian A. Hagen, J. Christian Franson, David A. Budeau, Erik K. Hofmeister
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wildlife Society Bulletin
Series Number
Index ID 70123544
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center