New measures reduce risk of CWD entering Ontario

by Steve Galea | December 18, 2020
white-tailed deer running through snow
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Additional regulations meant to prevent Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from entering Ontario were introduced by the provincial government on December 17.

Measures taken

The measures, which followed a period of public consultation, amended The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to:

• prohibit people from importing into Ontario live, captive cervids from outside of the province, with some exceptions
• prohibit people from moving live cervids from one part of Ontario to another, with some exceptions
• expand the existing prohibition on the use or possession of lures, scents, and attractants made from cervid parts to include any purpose beyond hunting
• expand the existing prohibition on import of high-risk parts of cervids hunted in other jurisdictions

The changes enhance protections already detailed in Ontario’s CWD Prevention and Response Plan, introduced in December 2019. That plan was created to minimize the risk of the disease entering or spreading within the province.

OFAH’s priority

“The OFAH is extremely pleased with these new restrictions. The importance of the changes cannot be overstated. They put in place meaningful barriers that will prevent the spread of CWD and safeguard our native white-tailed deer, moose, elk, and caribou.

In particular, the restrictions on the movement of live captive animals by the deer farming industry has been a major OFAH priority and the changes closely follow what we suggested in 2018.

While continued work is needed to keep Ontario CWD-free, this is a major accomplishment, and we applaud the government for making these changes,” said OFAH Wildlife Biologist Dr. Keith Munro.

The skinny on CWD

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It has not been detected in Ontario but was discovered on a Quebec deer farm close to the Ontario border in 2018. It has also been found in all five US states bordering Ontario.

The province has conducted an annual CWD surveillance program since 2002 that has tested more than 13,000 wild deer and elk for the disease. Thus far, all results have been negative.

“It’s important that we do everything we can to prevent CWD from entering Ontario,” said Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski. “The changes we’ve made will help protect Ontario’s wildlife and support sustainable hunting, which creates jobs and makes an important economic contribution to our province.”

Deer hunters spend more than $275 million annually in Ontario.

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  1. Rick blanchard wrote: Let’s close the gate on CWD before it’s too late. I support restricting baiting for hunting and feeding of deer in winter ( except in emergency situations). Both cause deer to gather in unnatural numbers, usually eating food other deer have left saliva, urine and feces on.
  2. Jeff Minten wrote: I think this is all good news. Like covid we need to do anything it takes to stop this deadly disease.