Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Stephen Demarais

Committee Member

Bronson K. Strickland

Committee Member

W. Cooper Brookshire

Date of Degree

8-6-2021

Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 1 year

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only

Major

Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science

College

College of Forest Resources

Department

Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Abstract

Supplemental feeding of deer is a common management action. However, concentrating animals, as feeding does, is known to promote the transmission of disease. We examined how feeding alters three sources of disease: aflatoxins, gastrointestinal parasites, and ticks. To do this, we paired 79 feeder sites throughout Mississippi with ecologically-equivalent sites without feeders. Wildlife visitation increased at feeders compared to sites without feeders. For aflatoxins, we sampled during the summer and hunting season and found low prevalence and levels in feeders and bagged/bulk feed. The greater concern was environmental exposure to aflatoxins. All corn piles exposed to environmental contamination in July contained toxic levels of aflatoxins after eight days. The environmental load of gastrointestinal parasites was elevated for coccidia (4x) and strongylids (3x). Finally, feeding reduced the number of ticks at feeder sites, but did not alter the prevalence of tick-borne diseases within captured ticks compared to sites without feeders.

Sponsorship

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Parks

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