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Keeping Alberta’s Herds Healthy for Future Generations
Hunting season is one of the best times of year for many Albertans. Whether you’re a bowhunter, hunt on the prairies or in the foothills and mountains, Alberta offers hunters some of the best and most diverse hunting experiences in the world not only for the terrain but also the wild animals that call our province home.
This fall’s hunting season is in full swing in Alberta, featuring a staggered hunting schedule to help guide hunters in terms of when the season for mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose are open.
Many Alberta Hunters are some of the best stewards of our land and animal herds, often thinking years ahead in terms of what’s most important for future generations of Albertans. This hunting season, all Hunters in the province are being asked to look for Chronic wasting disease (CWD) mainly prevalent in deer, elk and moose populations.
CWD is a progressive, degenerative, fatal disease of the brain of free ranging or farmed cervids (elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer and moose). CWD belongs to a group of related diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs), which include Scrapie in sheep and goats, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. While CWD and BSE are both from the group of related diseases called TSEs, it is important to note that they are not the same disease and have differences in mode of transmission and clinical signs. Also, CWD is not known to affect humans. Chronic wasting disease is a reportable disease under the federal Health of Animals Act and the provincial Animal Health Act.
Are humans at risk?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that CWD can affect humans. As a precaution, the World Health Organization recommends against allowing any meat source that may have come from a CWD-infected animal into the human food system.
Unlikely that CWD is transmissible to domestic livestock
Scientific evidence suggests that it is unlikely that CWD can be passed to domestic cattle or bison under natural conditions. To date, research in the United States indicates cattle are not susceptible to oral exposure to CWD.
We All Play A Part in Keeping All Animals Healthy in Alberta
Alberta Innovates launched a 2022 Chronic Wasting Disease Research Program in July of 2022 and made $1 million available for research projects that investigate the devastating brain disease in deer, elk, and other cervids. Programs such as this from Alberta Innovates are important in the ongoing goal to keep all populations of animals healthy in our province.
At the ABVMA, our main focus is on the health and wellness of domestic pets, livestock, and wildlife, and just as importantly our member veterinarians and veterinary teams. Wildlife veterinarians look out for the health and safety of wildlife but also for any sign of disease that could cause issues in human and domestic animal populations. If you are a hunter with questions about CWD, or you’re looking for more information about pets and livestock health—including the effect on human health, your local veterinary team is an excellent resource to turn to for more detailed information. Creating a greater environment for the overall health of humans and all animals, both domestic and wild, is of paramount importance to us. So if you have questions, we’d be more than happy to answer them or direct you to the sources you need to find the answers you’re looking for.
Helpful information regarding CWD from the Government of Alberta
The Alberta Government has established a page on their website detailing important information regarding CWD. The page was created to help hunters and conservationists identify, report and submit animals’ heads for testing. The site features regional information where the submission of the heads for testing is mandatory, and also regions where testing is voluntary.
The Government of Alberta has also provided an excellent resource in terms of information hunters of all experience levels need to know. This page features info ranging from regulations and where to get your hunting license to further details about CWD.