The VOICE of Anglers and Hunters since 1928

Chronic Wasting Disease


Major Victory in the Fight Against CWD

Today (July 15, 2020) marked the first step of a major victory in the OFAH’s fight to keep chronic wasting disease (CWD) out of Ontario. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is proposing to clamp down on how the deer farming industry can move animals into, through, and within Ontario, and further regulate high-risk parts and products. This is something the OFAH has been advocating for and is a major accomplishment in the fight to keep CWD out of Ontario. All OFAH members should be proud knowing their voice drove this change.

First detected in Colorado in 1967, CWD has since spread across North America and beyond. The main driver behind this spread is the movement of infected animals by the deer farming industry. Animals can be infected with CWD but show no symptoms. When moved from farm to farm, they spread the disease, which can then ‘jump the fence’ and infect native wildlife.

Currently, the MNRF can only regulate the movement of native cervids by the deer farming industry. This severely limits their authority because the majority of farmed deer in Ontario are non-native. Red deer alone account for 59% of farmed deer in Ontario. In 2018, CWD was detected on a Quebec red deer farm only 15 kilometres from the Ontario border. If adopted, these changes will allow the MNRF to regulate the movement of all farmed cervids.

The MNRF is also proposing to:

  • Expand the existing prohibition on the possession and use of natural lures made from body parts of cervids. Right now, these are illegal for hunters to use but can still be purchased and used for other things like nature photography.
  • Further restrict which cervid parts can be brought into Ontario by hunters, allowing only cut (butchered) meat, taxidermy mounts, tanned hides and skulls, canine teeth and antlers from which all tissue has been removed.

You can read the proposal at

It’s important for hunters to voice their support, which will help ensure healthy deer, moose, elk, and caribou populations in Ontario for future generations.

What is CWD ?

CWD is highly infectious, incurable, and 100% fatal to members of the cervid family, which includes Ontario’s native white-tailed deer, moose, elk and caribou as well as exotic species such as red and fallow deer. It has been detected in three Canadian provinces, 26 states in the U.S., Finland, Norway, South Korea and Sweden. CWD is caused by a misfolded protein known as a prion (“pree-on”) and belongs to a group of diseases that also includes mad cow disease. CWD-infected animals continuously shed prions which can pass to other animals through direct contact or accumulate in the soil, vegetation, or on hard surfaces and from there infect other animals. Prions are resistant to chemicals, radiation, freezing, and even incineration at more than 600⁰C. The visible symptoms of CWD include weight loss, excessive salivation, disorientation, tremors, stumbling, a lack of coordination, and paralysis. However, not all infectious animals display these symptoms and there is no effective live test for CWD. All these factors make CWD incredibly dangerous to Ontario’s native cervids and incredibly hard to eradicate if it becomes established.

How can hunters help keep CWD out of Ontario?

If you hunt in one of the MNRF’s 2020 surveillance zones, you can personally help keep Ontario CWD-free. Click here for more information.

Video – The Risk of CWD Explained


What has the OFAH been doing?

For the past three decades the OFAH has been asking governments to take actions to keep CWD out of Ontario.  The 2019 OFAH conference had a singular goal – to raise awareness and build a strong multi-sector collaborative to convince governments to take the necessary steps to protect Ontario from CWD.  Over 200 attendees and 50+ organizations representing agriculture, First Nations, human health, science and research, hunting, tourism, border services, and many other interests were in attendance.  Presentations from leading experts across North America shared their knowledge and experiences with the risks CWD poses to our wildlife, economy, and public health.  The message was crystal clear – prevention and planning must be our priority. CWD is bad for deer, bad for people, and bad for the economy. We need to prevent CWD from entering Ontario, implement measures to detect it if it does, and respond with decisive action. The work continues in the coming months, as we make recommendations and work with conference attendees and other organizations to influence action on CWD.

OFAH Letter: Opposing the proposal to repeal section 76 of the Health of Animals Regulations – The authority for cervid movement permits – Apr 7, 2021

OFAH Letter: Proposal to reduce the risk of CWD in Ontario – Aug 26, 2020

OFAH Letter: supporting the updated CWD surveillance & response plan – July 25, 2019

OFAH Letter: requesting action from OMAFRA – Oct 25, 2018

OFAH Letter: requesting action from MNRF – Oct 25, 2018

OFAH Letter: Supports CWD Research – Sept 21, 2017

OFAH Letter: White-tail Deer Management Policy for Ontario – April 18, 2017


Ontario’s CWD Prevention and Response Plan

MNRF CWD Surveillance Report 2019

CWD Infographic – MNRF

2019 OFAH CWD Conference Report

CWD found in Quebec near the Ontario border

Canadians Concerned About CWD (CCAC)

A Proposed Zoning Approach for the Control of CWD in Canada
CWD in Canadian Wildlife – An Expert Opinion on the Epidemiology and Risks to Wild Deer
CWD Surveillance Program and Proactive Response Plan for Ontario
Ontario Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Program 2017 Update
Ontario CWD Surveillance and Response Plan 2005
Ontario’s Cervid Movement Policy
Potential Economic Impacts of CWD on Ontario’s Economy
Surveillance des maladies de la faune MFFP
The Challenge of CWD



Wild deer, moose, elk and caribou at risk in Ontario – CWD is at our doorstep

Deer cull underway in Quebec to manage disease – CBC

Deadly wasting disease found in farmed Outaouais deer, hundreds culled – Ottawa Citizen

What can you do?




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