CWD regulations in Alberta

Due to the regular amending of regulations in Alberta, it is recommended that before hunting you check these CWD regulations, as well as those of any other states or provinces in which you will be hunting or traveling through while transporting cervid carcasses. The contact information for Alberta can be seen below:

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Most Recent CWD News

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  • We are making good progress on testing the heads submitted during the 2015/16 hunting seasons. But we still have about 900 yet to do. To date we have test results from 3921 heads and detected CWD in 74 deer (68 mule deer, 6 white-tailed deer;

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  • Hunters continue to play important role in disease surveillance

    Twelve new cases of chronic wasting disease have been identified in wild deer as a result of Alberta’s fall surveillance program. Hunters have submitted more than 4,800 wild deer heads for testing since September 1, 2009.

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  • The chronic wasting disease 2008 fall hunter surveillance program is winding down. As of January 7, 2009, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development lab has completed tests on just over 3,000 heads. Individual hunters are notified of negative results when they are available through the Alberta

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  • EDMONTON - Twenty-four more cases of chronic wasting disease have been found in Alberta's wild deer, the Sustainable Resource Development of Alberta announced Tuesday.

    The results, from a 2007-2008 testing program, bring the province's count of the disease up to 53 cases.

    CWD affects the central

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  • Further efforts planned to maintain pressure against the disease.

    Edmonton... Twenty-four new cases of chronic wasting disease have been detected in wild deer along the Saskatchewan border, bringing the total number of cases in Alberta to 53.

    Alberta government staff recently held public meetings in

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Category Archives: Alberta

Elk Test Negative for CWD

All but five elk shot by wildlife officers near Stony Plain have been tested for chronic wasting disease and come up negative.

Government spokesman Dave Ealey says 28 elk were shot by Fish and Wildlife staff after they were discovered roaming free earlier this fall.

Of those, 23 produced brain tissue samples suitable for tests for chronic wasting disease, an affliction similar to mad cow disease.

Officials are confident they captured all the animals, which they believe were farm-raised and trucked to the area and released on purpose.

Alberta’s Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) Rapid Test Laboratory – Detection of Prion Protein Using the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA

Surveillance/Research Update


Since the initiation of Alberta’s chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance program in 1996, two game-farmed cervids, a ranched elk at slaughter and a white-tailed deer that died on the farm have been diagnosed with CWD. Both animals were diagnosed in 2002. The detection of scrapie in an Alberta sheep, in the spring of 2003, was followed by the diagnosis of Canada’s first indigenous case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an Alberta cow, in May 2003. The presumptive TSE positive diagnoses were made by Alberta Agriculture’s Food Safety Division (FSD), using prion-specific immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining.

In anticipation of increased BSE testing requirements in Alberta and Canada following the positive BSE diagnosis, and in order to reduce the turn-around-time of reporting TSE test results, the FSD developed an enhanced bio-containment level 2 TSE laboratory and selected the Bio-Rad TeSeE® enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) as the diagnostic test for rapid TSE screening. Development of the TSE rapid test laboratory, located in the O.S. Longman Laboratory, Edmonton, commenced in May 2003 and was completed by December 2003. The laboratory was audited and certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in January 2004.

The Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA was chosen for several reasons. It has been validated and approved by the European Union (EU) for the diagnosis of BSE and is currently used in the United Kingdom (UK) and several European countries, as well as Japan, as the diagnostic test for high-throughput BSE screening programs. The BSE test results generated by countries that use the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA should thus be readily accepted internationally by trading partners. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture has validated and licensed the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA for diagnosing CWD in deer and elk and it has recently been evaluated in the United Kingdom for diagnosing scrapie in sheep. The Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA thus has the potential to be used as the diagnostic test for BSE, CWD and scrapie surveillance. It has demonstrated high sensitivity, specificity and reliability for diagnosing TSEs and is readily automated using robotic work stations, thus allowing it to be used for low, medium or high-throughput testing. The cost of the test itself is reasonable ($19.00 for test materials only) and the time from sample preparation in the laboratory to when results are ready is about 7.5 hours. In house and Bio-Rad bar code recognition systems allow traceability of all samples throughout the testing procedure.

Bio-Rad training

Bio-Rad provides an intensive TeSeE® ELISA training program for technical and scientific personnel at their laboratory in Marnes, France, in order to quality assure the reliability of the TeSeE® ELISA for diagnosing TSEs. However, equivalent training was provided for Agri-Food Laboratories Branch (AFLB) technical and scientific staff by Bio-Rad scientists and engineers at the CFIA National BSE and National CWD/Scrapie Reference Laboratories, as well as on-site during the set up of the TSE rapid test laboratory in Edmonton.

Evaluation of the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA for diagnosing TSEs in Alberta

In order to satisfy CFIA quality assurance requirements and ISO 17025 accreditation requirements when laboratories plan to adopt a new diagnostic test, the FSD collaborated with the CFIA CWD/Scrapie Reference Laboratory and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Colorado in conducting inter-laboratory analytical and field studies to evaluate the sensitivity, specificity and reliability of the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA for diagnosing CWD in elk and deer. The results of the evaluation studies were excellent. Similar inter-laboratory field evaluation studies for diagnosing BSE in cattle (FSD & CFIA BSE Reference Laboratory) and scrapie in sheep (FSD & CFIA CWD/Scrapie Reference Laboratory), using the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA, are in progress and will be completed in early 2004. Manuscripts of the evaluation studies will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2004.

Commencement of TSE rapid testing by Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Three additional laboratory technicians were hired in January 2004 to staff the TSE rapid test laboratory and were trained by the laboratory scientists of the Immunology/Virology Work Unit, AFLB. Testing surveillance cervids for CWD, using the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA, began on February 5, 2004. During the last 2 weeks of February, 800 cervid samples were screened for CWD. There have been no ELISA positive reactors to date. Testing surveillance cattle for BSE, using the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA, began on March 5, 2004.

Edmonton’s TSE rapid test laboratory is the first provincial laboratory to be certified by the CFIA to use the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA as a diagnostic screening test for CWD and BSE surveillance. The Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA is currently the only rapid test approved by the CFIA for screening both cervids for CWD and cattle for BSE. The Edmonton laboratory currently has the highest testing capacity of any TSE laboratory in Canada.

TSE rapid testing capacity

Using the Bio-Rad TeSeE® ELISA, with automation, the Edmonton TSE rapid test laboratory has a current capacity of approximately 50,000 to 75,000 tests per year. With the current laboratory staff, enhancements to the database and further automation of the test procedure and specimen bar code system will allow a higher testing capacity, if required.

Turn-around-time for test results

Based on a 7.5 hour testing time, and the time required for thawing frozen samples, sampling, shipping samples from FSD regional laboratories to the Edmonton laboratory and reporting, the turn-around- time for the rapid test results is estimated to be 5 working days, from the time the specimen arrives at the laboratory until test results are reported.

Out-of-Season Alberta Deer Cull Aids Science

MAGRATH, ALTA. – Hunters in southern Alberta are killing white-tailed deer out of season – ridding the region of a growing nuisance and helping the pursuit of science.

The deer population outside Magrath, south of Lethbridge, has grown more than 500 per cent over the last decade. The animals are devouring gardens in town, where they’re safe from predators.

Hundreds of deer line both sides of the road in Magrath, according to the town’s manager. “They just dart out in front of traffic and people are hitting them with their cars,” said Ron Williams.

The province has given its blessing to the cull, with wildlife officers saying that since the deer have become accustomed to people and life in Magrath, killing them in a special quota hunt is the only way left to get rid of them.

“What we’re trying to do is target a very specific area and the population of white-tailed deer,” said Kim Morton of Alberta Fish and Wildlife.

While hunters enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime chance, government scientists are collecting and studying the ungulates’ heads for signs of chronic wasting disease, a brain-wasting disease like bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

“It’s actually very rare to get access to a population of animals that’s from a defined area,” said Doug Coldwell, a specialist in animal-borne parasites at the Lethbridge Research Centre.

Animal rights activists, though, call the hunt a cruel and simplistic solution.

“Humans caused the problem by destroying natural predators in their natural environment,” said Pat Tacail of Voice for Animals. “We need to take responsibility for our actions instead of blaming wildlife and deciding to kill wildlife.”

So far hunters have shot 100 deer and they’re allowed to kill 100 more.

Second Sick Deer ‘Swept Under Carpet’- Chronic-wasting disease: Food safety officials knew 2 1/2 months ago illness had spread

EDMONTON – Federal officials have been sitting for 2 1/2 months on news that a second Alberta deer tested positive for chronic-wasting disease, a mad-cow variant that has forced the slaughter of thousands of elk on the Prairies, the National Post has learned.

Ray Heinen, who farms white-tail deer near Namao, Alta., confirmed yesterday that a four-year-old buck on his property tested positive for the disease in late March, raising questions as to why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has not yet alerted the public.

Chronic-wasting disease (CWD) is a prion-based illness that eats the brain tissue of deer and elk until they die. There is no cure for it and, unlike mad-cow, it is believed to spread from animal to animal through close contact.

While there is no evidence of CWD transferring to people, all deer and elk are tested for it at slaughter because scientists are not sure of the health risk it poses to humans.

The disease is also considered a threat to wildlife because it spreads relatively quickly and is known to have infected wild deer and elk herds in the western United States.

Alberta’s most recent case came five months after another white-tail deer on Mr. Heinen’s operation died from CWD — an event that sent the already beleaguered game-farming industry into a tailspin.

It was the first farm-raised white-tail to come down with the disease in Canada after more than 100 elk in Saskatchewan were found to have it.

Food safety officials immediately ordered the slaughter and testing of close to 350 deer on Mr. Heinen’s farm, along with 95 animals identified as part of a trace-out of deer that had lived with the infected one.

Not long after the test results came back, federal investigators suggested publicly that the illness had spread no further.

On April 11, the Edmonton Journal quoted George Luterbach, a senior veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, saying there had been no other cases of CWD on deer or elk farms in Alberta or Saskatchewan since the finding in October.

That information conflicted, however, with rumours that spread this week throughout the game-farming industry that a second animal had, in fact, been found to carry the disease.

When reached at his home yesterday, Mr. Heinen confirmed the existence of a diseased second animal, saying the result was among those obtained from his herd following the first infection.

The finding worries him, he added, because the second deer had not been exposed to any obvious source of CWD — including the other sick animal. The first infected buck found on his place belonged to another farmer in Morinville, who had leased it to him for breeding purposes. This deer was one of Mr. Heinen’s own.

“It was born on our farm, but it was in a different pen,” he said. “There was no actual physical contact [with the first positive animal]. So, if anything, I think it raises a big question mark…. How did it happen? That’s the biggest problem. They don’t know.

“These two weren’t side by side and, from what I understand, the first one wasn’t far enough advanced to even be contagious. So how could we have a second one?”

When contacted yesterday, officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at first denied there had been another positive, but backtracked when it became clear the information had spread.

Jeff Meerman, a spokesman for the agency in Calgary, said the agency had intended to convey only that no other farms had been implicated in the search for CWD — not that there had not been other cases.

Privacy laws had prevented the agency from releasing further results from the Heinen farm, he added.

“Because the vets can’t give out that information, they would have said the test results are private and that you would have to ask the individual owner,” he said. “What I can tell you is that no additional premises in Alberta [had CWD cases].”

Mr. Meerman acknowledged the information is vital to both the game-farming and outdoors industries. But he said a full trace-out has been performed on animals that lived on the farm, yielding no further positives.

“The animals on that property were all depopulated, destroyed, properly disposed of and tested,” he said. “There’s no risk.”

Dr. Luterbach did not respond to requests for an interview.

Wildlife advocates voiced outrage about the secrecy surrounding the case, noting that they, too, had heard rumours of a second infected animal.

Martin Sharren, of the Alberta Fish and Game Association, said openness about CWD is vital to the outdoors industry, as well as public confidence in Canadian game meat.

“Stuff like that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet,” he said. “It makes you wonder what else is out there that we don’t know about. If my health and welfare might be at stake, I’d sure like to know.”

BSE Disease Investigation in Alberta

Edmonton AB.-The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has quarantined an Alberta farm in an investigation of a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

This case of one cow was detected as part of Canada’s ongoing BSE surveillance program. Alberta Agriculture officials tested a cow that had been condemned at slaughter. No meat from the cow entered the food chain. Preliminary tests performed at a provincial laboratory and at the CFIA’s National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease were unable to rule out BSE. The CFIA sent specimens to the World Reference Laboratory at Weybridge, United Kingdom, which has verified the presence of BSE.

The CFIA and the Province of Alberta are investigating the animal’s origin and how its remains were processed. Information suggests that the risk to human health and the possibility of transmission to other Canadian cattle from this case are low.

“Immediate action has been taken to safeguard Canadian consumers and the Canadian livestock population,” said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief. “Federal officials, in cooperation with provincial and industry partners, are conducting a comprehensive investigation and taking all necessary steps to control the situation.”

“We remain confident in our beef and cattle industry and we will support both the CFIA and our cattle industry in eliminating this disease from Canada,” said Shirley McClellan, Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

The affected herd will be depopulated once the necessary samples are obtained for the purposes of the ongoing investigation. Any additional herds that are found to be at risk as a result of the investigation will also be depopulated.

This is a comprehensive investigation to trace the origin of the cow and determine how it was processed, which will provide information to control any potential spread of disease. The investigation involves thorough scrutiny of records at the farm level, abattoir, rendering plant and feed mills.