Chronic Wasting Disease was first discovered in the 1960s and has spread, being detected in 19 states and two Canadian provinces in wild elk, mule deer, whitetail deer and moose. Prions are the proteins that affect the brain, and have not been treatable and almost impossible to get rid of. Until two USGS researchers discussed lichen and prions, "(Johnson) got assigned space in my office, and I started telling him about the strange compounds lichens have, and he got interested and was thinking they might have some anti-prionic activity," said Bennett. They started conducting tests, and from that data were able to publish their study.
The lichens would be a safe way to treat the CWD. From their tests they found there were three types of lichen that were shown to degrade prions from infected hamsters, mice, and deer according to Wisconsin State Journal .