The Provincial CWD Working Group met on May 11, 2021 and included updates from Alberta, Montana and B.C..
The CWD situation in Alberta is not getting any better with affected areas continuing to expand westward towards B.C. and prevalence rates increasing in affected areas. Incidences of CWD are still most prevalent in mule deer bucks, but increasing in mule and white-tailed does with a few more positive test results in elk and moose.
Incidences of CWD in Montana also continue to increase with most cases in the state being in the northwest near the BC/Montana border. Montana is working on prevention including the prohibition of transporting live cervids and carcasses from CWD known zones, carcass disposal rules, banning the feeding of wildlife and the banning of scents containing cervid urine. In addition, 107 deer were trapped and euthanized in the Libby area (13 of which tested positive for CWD) and white-tailed doe hunting authorizations have been increased. This is an adaptive management program with the goal of keeping the incidence of CWD below five percent.
1185 samples were tested for CWD in B.C. in 2020 with no positive results, but confidence levels with this number of samples remains a bit iffy as to whether B.C. has CWD or not. Dr. Adam Ford’s group at UBC Okanagan is using telemetry data from GPS collars to track the movement of deer across borders — data confirms that some deer do move back and forth between B.C. and Montana.
There will be some proposed regulation changes to align with other jurisdictions adding bones in addition to “high risk” tissues. Scents that contain cervid urine are still being sold in B.C., even though the use is illegal, so the regulation proposal would change from a prohibition of use in hunting to a possession prohibition.
Mandatory submission of heads for CWD testing will be ongoing for several wildlife management units (WMUs) in the East Kootenays. WMU 4-23 will be added to units 4-1 through to 4-7.
By Gerry Paille, Chair of Wildlife and Allocations Committee