In 2019-20, the B.C. CWD Program tested 1,252 samples – all negative. Thankfully, this disease has not yet been detected in B.C. This was a record year for the CWD Program, with 1,070 samples from the Kootenay Region, 145 samples from the Peace Region and 37 samples from other areas of B.C. Hunters are vital to wildlife health surveillance and provided 80 percent of all 2019 CWD samples. Thank you to BCWF members for your participation and continued support.
The result of this year’s surveillance is good news, but the risk, especially from Montana is still high. This is the time to be diligent and proactive, to ensure that if the disease is introduced to B.C. it is detected as soon as possible to minimize any negative impacts. Continuing enhanced surveillance in the highest risk areas is vital. The Chief Veterinary Officer of BC (Ministry of Agriculture) has again issued a General Order under the Animal Health Act for the mandatory submission of deer heads harvested in the highest risk area along the BC-Montana border. The Order will again apply to any mule deer or white-tailed deer harvested by a licensed hunter in Region 4 management units 4-1 through 4-7. The Order will be in effect from September 1st, 2020 to December 20th, 2020.
Investments by our partners and the government in new freezers, regional coordinators and outreach in 2019-20 provides a strong foundation to support surveillance activities into 2020-21. The BCWF provided 10 new freezers for CWD for CWD surveillance in the Kootenay Region. Additional freezers were donated and hosted by clubs in other areas of B.C.
The Peace and Kootenay Regions continue to be the priority for targeted surveillance; however, the risk of disease introduction exists in all areas. There have been several cases of intact cervid carcasses returning from Alberta hunts with hunters bringing them back to the Thompson, Cariboo and Vancouver Island regions. Some tested positive for CWD but all hunters were very collaborative, and we believe we disposed of the infected meat appropriately. However, these actions are a very real threat and highlights the need for increased awareness and outreach, across the Province. Please inform yourselves of these risks and help us to spread the word so we can keep CWD out of B.C.