Ontario's CWD Surveillance and Response Plan

 

The Executive Summary of the Ontario Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance and Response Plan below provides further information on the plan. The entire plan is available for download (as a PDF of 700 kb), or may be obtained by contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources, Wildlife Policy Section by mail at 300 Water Street, Peterborough, Ontario K9J 8M5. The plan is available in English only.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The Ministries of Natural Resources (MNR), Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) (along with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency - CFIA) have collaboratively prepared the Ontario Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance and Response Plan.

 

The Plan identifies the risks to wild and captive members of the deer family (e.g., white-tailed deer, elk) associated with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). It provides for multi-agency coordination in five key areas:

 

  • prevention
  • surveillance
  • control and eradication
  • recovery
  • communications

 

The Plan identifies roles and responsibilities for government ministries/agencies, related to potential response actions and identifies the need to work with affected stakeholders and the public to ensure preventive steps and potential response actions are effective.

 

The Plan builds on, and incorporates, lessons learned in other jurisdictions. A National Wildlife Disease Strategy and the National CWD Control Strategy were recently approved by the Joint Committee of Ministers responsible for Forests, Wildlife, Endangered Species, and Fisheries and Aquaculture. The Ontario Plan is consistent with the approaches and principles in those Strategies.

 

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Executive Summary

 

Background

 

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a degenerative brain disease of deer and elk that is associated with prions and is related to other transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) diseases such as mad cow disease.

 

CWD was first described in captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967. It was first detected in free-ranging deer in Colorado in 1981, although it is thought to have infected wild herds before then.

 

Wildlife agencies in CWD-susceptible areas across Canada and the U.S. have expanded their surveillance activities in an effort to document the presence or absence of the disease as it continues to spread across the United States and into western provinces.

Ontario began testing free-ranging deer for CWD in 2002 and implemented a CWD surveillance program in the fall of 2003.

 

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U.S. Incidence

 

In the U.S., CWD has been found in mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk in captive facilities in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

 

CWD has been confirmed in free-ranging mule and white-tailed deer and elk in Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

 

Colorado has been testing for CWD in moose since 2002 and confirmed that one wild animal tested positive for the disease in September 2005.

 

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Canadian Incidence

 

In Canada, CWD was first recognized in captive mule deer in the Toronto Zoo in the mid-1970's (the symptoms were not confirmed as CWD until 1981 after the herd had died off).

 

No other incidence of the disease occurred in Canada until it was confirmed in two wild mule deer in Saskatchewan in 2001. Since then it has persisted in Saskatchewan's free-ranging mule deer and white-tailed deer populations and has been confirmed in wild mule deer in Alberta and in captive deer and elk herds in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

 

These occurrences and recent confirmation of CWD in captive and wild white-tailed deer in New York State have heightened concerns about the spread of the disease to Ontario.

 

There is no evidence that CWD is present in captive or free-ranging white-tailed deer and elk in Ontario.

 

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CWD and Human Health

 

No evidence exists that the disease has been, or can be, transmitted to humans. However, its relationship to diseases such as mad cow disease that can affect human health has heightened public concern. The deer and elk farming industry have been negatively impacted by CWD concerns.

 

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Ontario's CWD Task Team

 

In order to ensure Ontario is well positioned to respond to the threats posed by CWD the Chronic Wasting Disease task team was established and includes representatives from:

 

  • the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR)
  • the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAFRA)
  • the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC) and
  • the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

 

Task team members have worked collaboratively to prepare the Ontario Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance and Response Plan.

 

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Ontario's Surveillance and Response Plan

 

The Plan identifies the risks to wild and captive members of the deer family (e.g. white-tailed deer, elk) associated with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and provides for multi-agency coordination in 5 key areas: prevention, surveillance, control and eradication, recovery and communications.

 

The Plan identifies roles and responsibilities for government ministries/agencies, related to potential response actions and identifies the need to collaborate with affected stakeholders and the public to ensure preventative steps and potential response actions are effective.

 

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Potential Impacts

 

A social and economic impact analysis conducted by Stratus Consulting (April 2004, Appendix IV) confirms that CWD in Ontario could have significant primary and secondary effects on the provincial economy.

 

An initial discovery of CWD in either captive or wild deer could see a direct reduction of more than $11.0 million in provincial revenues from the hunting community.

 

Discovery of CWD anywhere in the province will impact the ability of the cervid farm industry to market its products. In addition, if eradication of captive animals is needed, compensation payments to owners could amount to several millions of dollars.

 

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Prevention and Management

 

Public and stakeholder engagement will be critical in achieving program goals associated with CWD prevention and management in free-ranging deer and elk. The task team, in collaboration with the public and stakeholders, will further develop effective preventative measures and take control actions, should they be necessary, to ensure both biological and socioeconomic goals are met.

 

Surveillance is the most effective way to ensure early detection and to ensure response actions are effective. Ontario's CWD surveillance program was established as a pilot project in 2002 and continued as an annual program in 2003.

 

The task team will periodically review the plan with stakeholders and the public.

 

The plan will be updated to provide additional guidance as needed or to respond to changes in organizations, conditions, experience, or scientific information.

 

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Please participate in the 2013 CWD testing program if you harvest deer in these Southeastern Ontario WMUs: 48, 55A, 55B, 58, 59, 63A and 63B