Interactions between wild and farmed white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) along perimeter fences may play a role in the transmission of diseases like bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease. However, no study has evaluated direct contact between wild and farmed deer through fences. We used animal-activated cameras to estimate rates of interaction between wild and farmed deer at 6 high-fenced commercial white-tailed deer farms in Michigan, USA, during October 2003 to January 2005. We recorded only 2 direct, naso-oral contacts between wild and farmed deer during >77,000 hours of camera monitoring. We documented little direct contact between wild and captive deer through fences and, therefore, believe there is limited potential for direct transmission of diseases. However, we suspect our results are conservative and do not rule out the risks of direct or indirect disease transmission into or out of deer farms. Our findings will be of use to federal and state agencies responsible for regulating deer farms as well as managers of such facilities.
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Vol. 71 • No. 5