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Posted: September 17, 2016

Deadly deer disease moving closer to B.C.

Provincial wildlife health authorities are turning to B.C. hunters to help monitor deer, moose and elk after biologists discovered an animal infected with chronic wasting disease 30 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, AB.

This is the furthest west – by 100 kilometres – that biologists have detected the deadly disease, and the discovery intensifies concerns about the infected deer making their way into British Columbia, a Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations press release noted.

Chronic wasting disease affects the central nervous of cervids – members of the deer family – and is always fatal. The disease is transmitted through infected saliva, urine, feces – even soil.

Wildlife health staff have yet to find an infected animal in B.C. but are stepping up monitoring efforts in the Peace and Kootenay regions where deer are most at-risk. Hunters in these regions can help by donating deer, elk and moose heads for analysis.

Heads can be dropped off at: Gwinner’s Country Butcher, Kimberley; Rick’s Fine Meats, Cranbrook; Wes’s Country Meats, Fernie.

Meanwhile, anyone encountering a sick or dead deer should report it to B.C.’s wildlife health program.

While similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy – the so-called mad cow disease – chronic wasting disease cannot infect humans.

Lead image from Mike Hopper, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

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