A new mandatory sampling program is requiring hunters to bring the heads of harvested whitetail and mule deer to various locations across the Kootenays in order to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
During the hunting season from Sept. 1- Nov. 30, the province is asking hunters to submit the heads of both deer species from specific wildlife management units along the southern Canada/U.S. border that include 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7 (see map below).
According to a provincial government news release, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks discovered nine animals with CWD in Libby, roughly 60 kilometres south of the B.C. border.
This is the first time the disease has been discovered west of the Rocky Mountains, raising concerns about infected deer potentially migrating up into B.C.
CWD is a fatal nervous system disease that afflicts deer, moose and elk and is caused by an abnormal protein. It can spread when an infected animal comes in contact with a healthy animal through soil, food and water contamination.
Visible symptoms include thin bodies, drooling, poor coordination and stumbling. Anyone who observes an ungulate with those symptoms is encouraged to call the provincial Wildlife Health Program at 250 751-3219 or the Report all Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1 877 952-7277.
It not known to affect humans, however, the World Health Organization discourages eating meat from animals infected or suspected to be infected.
The province has flagged the Peace and Kootenay regions as high-risk for CWD entry, due to previously confirmed cases in Alberta and Montana. No cases have been found in B.C. since monitoring began in 2002, however, more sampling is needed to ensure the province remains CWD-free.
Locations for CWD testing across the Kootenays include:
• Aqam (St. Mary’s) Ktunaxa Nation, Cranbrook
• Elkford Rod and Gun Club, United Steel Workers Local 7884 Union Hall, Elkford
• Golden Rod and Gun Club, Golden
• Grasmere General Store, Grasmere
• Gwinner’s Country Butcher, Kimberley
• Jaffray Sports and Hardware, Jaffray 24/7 drop-off
• Kimberley Sausage and Meats, Kimberly Customer drop-off only
• Rick’s Fine Meat and Sausage, Cranbrook
• Rocky Mountain Meats, Sparwood
• Skyway Auto Service, Creston
• South Country Services, Elko
• Two Pump Paul’s, Yahk
• Wes’s Country Meats, Fernie
• Wynndel Foods, Wynndel