Results in On Chronic Wasting Disease Testing
Prince George, B.C.- You could say, ‘so far, so good’, as latest sampling has shown chronic wasting disease has not yet been detected among B.C.’s deer, moose and elk population.
Last fall, wildlife health authorities put out the call to hunters, asking them to monitor deer, moose and elk for signs of the deadly disease and to submit the heads of animals they had harvested for testing.
Wildlife Health biologist Kate Nelson says hunters submitted hundreds of heads from animals for testing, and all tests have come back negative.
“We had a total of 350 heads submitted to the chronic wasting disease surveillance program” says Nelson, “That’s the highest number of samples we’ve received since we started surveillance in 2002.”
Chronic wasting disease affects the central nervous system of the animal, and is always fatal. The disease is spread through infected saliva, urine, feces and infected soil.
“The closest cases (to B.C.) in wild deer populations are in Alberta” says Nelson ” Last year, they detected it in mule deer just 20 kilometers outside of Edmonton.”
217 white tail deer, 69 mule deer, 45 elk, 17 moose and 2 caribou” says Nelson. The caribou samples were from animals killed in collisions with vehicles.
Nelson says most of the submitted heads came from the East Kootenays “We had a number of drop off locations set up around Cranbrook, , so 236 of the 350 came from the East Kootenay area. We also had samples submitted from the north east, which was another target area for us. Of course, we are trying to focus on areas adjacent to the Alberta border, but we will accept samples from across the province.” She says they are hoping to see an increase in the sample numbers from the Peace and Omineca areas “’cause those are areas that border with Alberta, so we would like to see more numbers coming from those areas.”
She says B.C. is still considered ‘low risk” for chronic wasting disease being present in wild deer, elk and moose “But we don’t want to take any chances, in case the disease continues to move west across Alberta. So we really need to do our due diligence. The more samples we have, the better we can understand the disease in our deer and the health of our deer populations, so the more samples the better. So if and when it ever does turn up in B.C., we will have a better handle on it.”