Alberta deer carcasses brought to Nanaimo tested for deadly disease
Conservation officers are testing the deer carcasses for Chronic Wasting Disease, a disease not found in B.C.: (CTV News)
VICTORIA – Testing has begun on a number of deer carcasses that a Nanaimo hunter brought in from an area of Alberta that is known to have a contagious deer disease not found in British Columbia.
On Nov. 21, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service issued a public appeal for information about the incident on their Facebook page.
"The Conservation Officer Service is urgently asking the public for information on Nanaimo residents suspected of harvesting mule deer in an Alberta area known for Chronic Wasting Disease [CWD] – a highly contagious and deadly disease for deer that has yet to be detected in B.C.," said the COS in their social media post.
"The concern is that the hunt took place in an area known for CWD, which can be devastating for wildlife populations," added the COS. "Although CWD has yet to be detected in B.C., human importation of infected carcasses is the highest threat of introduction to B.C. wildlife."
One day after the COS published their Facebook post, the conservation service said the person in question had been located.
On Friday, the COS told CTV News that the hunter responsible for bringing in the potentially contaminated deer carcasses came to the conservation service voluntarily as soon as they were made aware of the Facebook post.
"The person in question was alerted to our Facebook post and came very quickly to our office with deer heads in tow," said Stuart Bates, a spokesperson for the COS.
Bates adds that the hunter was "completely unaware" of the disease and its potential impacts on B.C.
Now, the deer heads provided by the hunter are being tested for CWD, though results of the tests are not expected for several weeks. Bates says that the rate of deer with CWD is about five per cent, or 1 in 20.
The conservation officer says that the main concern with Chronic Wasting Disease is that it is an infectious protein particle and not a bacteria, which means it can remain active and transmittable for a very long time.
"If they just threw out brains and spinal columns those could remain active for quite some time," says Bates.
CWD, however, cannot be transmitted to humans.
If any of the deer carcasses that are being examined test positive for CWD, potential consequences for the export of the deer would come from Alberta conservation services, says Bates.