Since it was first diagnosed in 1967, chronic wasting disease has been spreading throughout the US and Canada and has also been reported in Europe. It is a fatal disease among cervids (deer, elk, moose, reindeer) and can only be diagnosed after the animal has died.
There have been no reported cases of it spreading to people, but there are still concerns about the possibility – but not apparently a worry among hunters. Hunters have been co-operating and providing the heads of dead deer for analysis but in general have not changed what they hunt for or where. Nor does there seem to be a broad desire among hunters or the general public for increased disease surveillance and management.
Our chronic wasting disease project has been studying CWD biology, detection, mitigation, and wildlife management policy since 2016. Ellen Goddard is a professor at the University of Alberta and her role in the project is to look at the social, economic, and societal implications associated with the disease.
Freelance Broadcaster Don Hill talked with her about the project’s latest findings.