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 communities most affected by chronic wasting disease. Discussions in Wainwright, Lloydminster, Oyen and Provost centred on the growing cases of chronic wasting disease, the results of the 2007-08 program and plans for the future.

“We know the work we are doing to manage this disease is hard on staff and the communities, but it is imperative that we continue to work together on chronic wasting disease,” said Ted Morton, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development. “We have seen this disease result in serious environmental and economic implications in the U.S., and we want to prevent this from happening in Alberta.”

In designated areas along Alberta’s eastern border, hunters are required to submit deer heads for testing, which is the first step of the Chronic Wasting Disease Program. In addition, submission of deer heads from identified areas west of the border is strongly encouraged. From last year’s hunting seasons, 5,170 heads were submitted and six mule deer and one white-tailed deer tested positive for the disease.

During targeted control programs in February and March 2008, Sustainable Resource Development removed and tested 3,406 wild deer resulting in detecting 15 mule deer and two white-tailed deer with the disease. The data indicate that the control program is having an effect in limiting further spread of the disease.

Fifty-three cases of chronic wasting disease in wild deer have been detected since 2005. Of those, one was found sick, 12 were collected by hunters and 40 were collected during the control programs.

Hunters and landowners in Alberta along the Saskatchewan border are important players in chronic wasting disease management. The primary goal is to decrease the overabundant deer populations in high risk areas. All hunters and landowners are encouraged to take full advantage of hunting opportunities throughout the border area for 2008-09. For draw information, visit www.mywildalberta.com/Home/Hunting/HuntingDraws.aspx .

Chronic wasting disease affects the nervous system and causes infected animals to slowly waste away. There is no evidence the disease affects humans. As a precaution, the World Health Organization advises against allowing into the human food system any products from animals known to be infected with any prion disease such as chronic wasting disease and BSE. For further information, visit srd.alberta.ca