The Government of British Columbia has implemented a mandatory sampling program requiring hunters to submit heads from deer harvested in specific wildlife management units in the Kootenay region.
This program is part of the Province’s ongoing and proactive efforts to prevent chronic wasting disease (CWD) from entering B.C. and impacting deer, elk and moose populations.
From Tuesday, Sept. 1 to Dec. 20, 2020, hunters are required to submit the heads of mule deer and white-tailed deer harvested in specific wildlife management units (4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7) along the southern B.C. border in the Kootenay region for CWD testing. Drop-off locations may be found online: www.gov.bc.ca/chronicwastingdisease.ca
While this disease has not yet been detected in B.C., 64 animals (white-tailed deer, mule deer and moose) in the area around Libby, Mont. have been discovered with the disease since June 2019. This was the first time CWD had been detected west of the Rocky Mountains.
CWD is a progressive, fatal nervous system disease that affects members of the deer family (cervids). The disease is caused by an abnormal protein and can spread when a healthy animal comes into contact with an infected animal or an environment (soil, food or water) contaminated with CWD. The disease is not known to affect humans or animals other than cervid species.
The Province has been monitoring for the disease since 2002. The Peace and East Kootenay regions have been targeted as high-risk areas for disease entry due to the disease’s presence in Alberta and Montana. B.C. will continue testing samples for the disease to ensure the Province’s CWD-free status and inform any additional response.
The provincial Wildlife Health Program is also calling on hunters in other parts of the province, especially the Peace region, to bring deer, moose and elk heads to drop-off locations for CWD testing.
Anyone encountering an animal exhibiting the symptoms of CWD (thin, drooling, poor co-ordination, stumbling) should report it to the provincial Wildlife Health Program at 250 751-3219 or the Report all Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1 877 952-7277.