Edmonton… To improve monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease, staff of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development are collecting a sample of approximately 300 wild deer. This will occur between mid-February and late March in two sampling areas: one centred around Gibbons and Bon Accord and another near Fort Assiniboine, north and west of Edmonton.

This sampling program will be conducted with the cooperation of local landowners. Staff will collect the deer by shooting, which will be done in a safe manner that minimizes disturbance of landholders in their day-to-day activities, and avoids disturbing livestock and non-target wildlife.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was recently confirmed in a game-farmed elk and a farmed white-tailed deer on two different farms north of Edmonton. These are the only known occurrences of CWD in Alberta. The department has identified a need to increase the level of surveillance in the general vicinity of the affected farms as a way to assess whether the disease occurs in the wild.

Alberta has a coordinated Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance plan. As part of ongoing surveillance in Alberta, more than 3000 wild and over 6300 farmed deer and elk have been examined since 1996, with only one farmed elk and one farmed white-tailed deer being confirmed with CWD. The majority of samples from wild elk and deer were obtained from animals harvested during the normal fall hunting seasons, as well as in 2001 from a special spring collection along the border with Saskatchewan. There has been a moratorium on the importation of farmed cervids into Alberta, including from Saskatchewan, since 1988.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal, nervous system disease of deer and elk that damages the brain. There is no evidence of natural transmission of this disease to traditional livestock or humans. It is similar to, but different from, scrapie in sheep and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, also known as mad cow disease.