Elk (Cervus elaphus manitobensis) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) region of southwestern Manitoba have been identified as a likely wildlife reservoir of Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine mycobacteriosis in livestock. The feasibility of using coyotes (Canis latrans) collected from trappers as a sentinel species was investigated. Retropharyngeal, mesenteric, and colonic lymph nodes and tonsils collected at necropsy from 82 coyotes were examined by bacterial culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and acid-fast histopathology. Mycobacterium bovis was not identified in any animal by culture or PCR although Mycobacterium avium species were isolated. A single acid-fast organism was identified on histopathologic examination of one animal. Based on the methods used in this study, trapper-caught coyotes do not appear to be a sensitive sentinel species of M. bovis infection in cervids in and around RMNP.
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Vol. 43 • No. 3