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October 27, 2017 9:20 pm

Hunters Asked to Watch for Signs of Chronic Wasting Disease

Sunday, September 4, 2016 @ 9:29 AM

Prince George, B.C. – Hunting season  is getting underway, and B.C.’s Ministry of the Forests Lands and Natural Resources  is  calling on  hunters to keep an eye open for  animals  exhibiting symptoms of chronic wasting disease.

The disease  affects deer moose and elk.  First  detected in Saskatchewan,  it is now  widespread in Alberta and  is moving west towards the B.C. border, although biologists  have no evidence  at this point that  any animals in B.C. have  been infected.

Kate Nelson is a Wildlife Health biologist with the Ministry,  “Chronic  wasting disease  is caused by an abnormal protein that targets the central nervous system.  Deer infected with the disease in the early stages, don’t actually  show any signs of it,  so  animals that test positive are  often appearing  healthy and harvested by  hunters. It’s not always easy to tell if a deer has the disease or not.”  She says in later stages of the disease, symptoms might include weight loss,  drooling, poor coordination or stumbling.  The disease is always fatal.

“We’re also calling on the hunting population to submit their deer, elk and moose heads  from harvested  animals which may otherwise  look healthy so we can  test those animals and learn more about what’s out there.”

She says the natural spread  from animal to animal, is thought to be a slow process,  “But since the introduction  ( of the disease) in Canada in Saskatchewan, it has been  spreading through Alberta.  But the second way  chronic  wasting disease can move into British Columbia is through import of an infected carcass  by  hunters.   So lots of B.C. hunters go to the prairies to hunt and we’re really concerned about individuals who are hunting in areas where chronic wasting disease   occurs and we want to make sure hunters are aware of the risks of bringing any infected  tissues back into B.C.”   She says if any of the infected tissue comes into contact with the soil in B.C.   those abnormal proteins could infect the B.C. environment and   infect other animals moving through the area.

At this point  there is no evidence  that the disease can be transmitted to humans through  contact or consumption of  infected  meat.

Hunters are being asked to drop off the heads of the deer, moose or elk that  they have harvested to  any  B.C. Conservation office,  and  additional  locations have been set up in the Peace region and in the Kootenays  as both areas are considered to be at high risk because they are close to the Alberta border.

In the Peace,   the heads can be  dropped off at:

  • North Peace Rod and Gun Club, Fort St John
  • Peace Taxidermy, Hwy 29
  • Russell’s Custom Meat Cutting, Chetwynd

In the Kootenay region,  the drop off points are:

  • Cliff’s Meat, Kimberley
  • Rick’s Fine Meats, Cranbrook

Nelson says  hunters  who want to  keep the  rack  that’s ok  “For our purposes of sampling,   they can remove the antlers from the head and retain them.  If they want to keep the  whole head and rack intact,  then they can contact us and we can  actually sample those tissues and then return everything to them, we just need to make  special arrangements to do that.”

Nelson says what they are looking for in order to  collect a good sample is a head  that has not been shot in the head,  “and   if possible,  part of the neck of the animal still intact because samples  need to be taken from the back of the throat.  It is  really important they also include their contact information and some information on where the animal was harvested  so that we can report back to them and have the appropriate data for that head  so we can track results.”


Theres a lot of it going on in Victoria.

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