Long-Term Assessment of Wild Boar Harvesting and Cattle Removal for Bovine Tuberculosis Control in Free Ranging Populations
Research on management of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in wildlife reservoir hosts is crucial for the implementation of effective disease control measures and the generation of practical bTB management recommendations. Among the management methods carried out on wild species to reduce bTB prevalence, the control of population density has been frequently used, with hunting pressure a practical strategy to reduce bTB prevalence. However, despite the number of articles about population density control in different bTB wildlife reservoirs, there is little information regarding the application of such measures on the Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), which is considered the main bTB wildlife reservoir within Mediterranean ecosystems. This study shows the effects of a management measure leading to a radical decrease in wild boar population density at a large hunting estate in Central Spain, in order to assess the evolution of bTB prevalence in both the wild boar population and the sympatric fallow deer population. The evolution of bTB prevalence was monitored in populations of the two wild ungulate species over a 5-year study period (2007-2012). The results showed that bTB prevalence decreased in fallow deer, corresponding to an important reduction in the wild boar population. However, this decrease was not homogeneous: in the last season of study there was an increase in bTB-infected male animals. Moreover, bTB prevalence remained high in the remnant wild boar population.