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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Bobcat scat shows promise for containing chronic wasting disease

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Monday, January 8, 2024   

Bobcats and other carnivores can remove over 95% of chronic wasting disease - or CWD - prions from infected meat, according to early findings by Wyoming Game and Fish and researchers at the University of Wyoming.

CWD has spread rapidly across the state - putting deer, elk, and moose populations at risk.

Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Samantha Allen said bobcats and other carnivores could be a natural ally in the fight to contain CWD prions.

"It just might be another way to stop some of the transmission, and take some of the CWD off the landscape," said Allen. "Which is really important, and we have a really tough time doing that right now."

While some have warned that carnivores and scavengers help spread CWD prions across landscapes, Allen said that's not exactly what her team is seeing.

Researchers found that just 2% of prions remained in bobcat scat after being fed CWD infected materials. The next day, just 1% remains, and on the third day zero prions remain.

These results are similar to a 2021 study of mountain lions, according to a Wyofile report.

Prions are proteins that can't be destroyed like bacteria or a virus. They remain infectious on the land and can even end up in plants that animals eat.

Allen said the science is mixed on whether chronic wasting disease can be transmitted to people, but advises hunters not to eat contaminated meat.

"My recommendation is to get your animals tested, and to not consume CWD positive material" said Allen. "Because we don't want to push this kind of prion disease to change in a way that it does become more likely that we get infected with CWD."

The challenges of stopping the spread of chronic wasting disease, fatal in all cases except in some moose, are multi-faceted.

Wyoming's winter elk feeding grounds are widely seen as potential super-spreaders. But Allen said if the research is confirmed, carnivores could play an important role in clean up.

"It's not going to be one thing that is going to fix or alter the trajectory of CWD prevalence or even management in some of these populations," said Allen. "It's going to be a lot of different things working together."




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