Chronic Wasting Disease
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 four 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 that 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 for deer in one of the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry’s (NDMNRF) roving surveillance zones, you can personally help keep Ontario CWD-free. If you are hunting deer outside of Ontario, make sure you know and follow the rules around bringing deer parts and carcasses into the province. Information on the surveillance program and transport rules can be found at www.ontario.ca/cwd.
No matter where you are in the province, you can help with the early detection of wildlife disease by reporting sick, strange-acting, or dead wildlife (not just deer) to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. Hunters are literally the eyes in the woods and play an incredibly important role.
Video – The Risk of CWD Explained (originally published Nov. 1, 2019)
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. Since the conference, we’ve kept up the advocacy pressure and seen the Ontario government respond with new regulations and practices that significantly reduce the risk of CWD entering in Ontario and addressing it if it does. You can read more of our advocacy work below.
OFAH Letter: Proposal to reduce the risk of CWD in Ontario – Aug 26, 2020
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
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
Potential Economic Impacts of CWD on Ontario’s Economy
Surveillance des maladies de la faune MFFP
The Challenge of CWD
What can you do?
Click here for information on Sustaining Memberships.