This year, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) staff will conduct their annual chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance deer program in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) – 82A, 82B, 82C, 83, 84, 85A, 85B, and 85C in Grey and Huron Counties.
During the gun season for deer, roving MNRF crews will, with permission, surgically remove small tissue samples from the brain stem and lymph nodes of hunter-harvested deer for testing. This procedure will not prevent hunters from consuming the venison or having the head mounted.
Hunters may also drop off deer heads at listed depots in the area within a few days of harvest. Those locations can be found at www.ontario.ca/CWD.
Fawns under 1 year of age will not be tested as CWD is less likely to be detected.
Locations for testing hunter-harvested Ontario deer are chosen annually, based upon known risk factors, such as deer population density, deer and elk farms in the area, habitat and land use, winter feeding of deer, and elk re-introductions. The MNRF works on a rotating basis to cover the province.
According to the MNRF, over the past 15 years CWD has emerged as the most important disease to affect both wild and farmed cervid populations in North America. Since 1997, Canada has tested more than 233,300 farmed and wild cervids.
During that same period Ontario tested 11,074 farmed and wild cervids, which have all tested negative.
There is currently no cure for this fatal disease, believed to be caused by abnormal proteins called prions. There is no evidence that CWD, in the same family as BSE (mad cow disease), can be transmitted to humans.
CWD affects white-tailed deer, American elk, moose and woodland caribou. It can be spread by animal contact or exposure to a contaminated environment. Evidence suggests the disease may remain in the soil for years.