CWD deer causing concern

by Steve Galea | April 19, 2023
mule deer
Stock photo of a mule deer

More cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) detected in Manitoba are causing concern. First found there in 2021, 20 positive cases of CWD have been identified as of March 6. Eighteen of them were in mule deer (17 male and one female) while two were infected male white-tailed deer.

The infected animals were found during mandatory biological sampling submissions as well as in animals harvested by Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development staff as a part of ongoing CWD management efforts.

Remaining CWD vigilant

The discovery means both of our neighbouring provinces and all five bordering US states have detected the disease, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Senior Media and Issues Advisor Graeme Laberge said. CWD has also been detected in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“The recent cases identified in Manitoba highlight the importance of remaining vigilant, continuing to monitor for CWD, and ensuring quick and aggressive response should we detect a positive case in Ontario,” he added.

Laberge said Ontario’s CWD Prevention and Response Plan, updated in 2019, outlines steps to minimize the risk of the disease entering or spreading within Ontario.

He also noted that MNRF’s CWD risk model is updated each year with new information, including cases in neighbouring jurisdictions, and is used to direct annual surveillance efforts. CWD surveillance has been ongoing in Ontario since 2002. Over 14,800 samples have been tested since then and CWD has not been detected.

On Jan. 1, 2021, new rules concerning the import into, transport through, and movement within Ontario of live captive cervids (members of the deer family) were implemented. These rules help mitigate the risk of introducing CWD into Ontario.

OFAH calls for proactivity

The news means there is a renewed sense of importance on the continued early detection and prevention of CWD within the province, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Biologist Kirsten Snoek said.

“The threat remains significant of CWD crossing into our province, and the OFAH calls on governing agencies to remain vigilant and proactive with the Ontario CWD surveillance program,” she said. “Ontario has not yet detected CWD within its borders, but it is now more important than ever that everyone works together to keep CWD from establishing in the province and to keep our cervid populations healthy.”

CWD is an incurable, fatal disease that affects members of the deer family (cervids) including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and caribou. For more info visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/chronic-wasting-disease

To read more OOD CWD-coverage, click here

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