Chronic Wasting Disease

Help Prevent Chronic Wasting Disease from Infecting B.C. Deer

B.C. wildlife biologists are calling on hunters, especially in the Peace and East Kootenay, to help monitor for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a deadly infection that affects the central nervous of cervids - members of the deer family. 

CWD has not yet been detected in B.C. Since 2002, over 3900 deer, elk and moose have been tested however the numbers in recent years have not consistently provided confidence in disease freedom – absence of the disease.

The disease is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. These prions are transmitted through infected saliva, urine, feces, even plants and soil. Signs of infection in deer include weight loss, poor coordination, stumbling and trembling.

While it is similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy - the so-called mad cow disease – there is no direct evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans. That said, as a precaution, any animal suspected or confirmed to have CWD should not be eaten.

CWD continues to spread in all affected jurisdictions despite mitigation and management efforts. In June 2019 the disease was detected in deer in Libby Montana – very close to the B.C. border. This significantly increased the disease risk to B.C.’s cervid populations and requires a collaborative, coordinated and rapid response.

Hunters are asked to bring deer, moose and elk heads to drop off location (below) for testing.  Meanwhile, anyone encountering a sick deer exhibiting the symptoms of CWD (thin, drooling, poor coordination, stumbling) should report it to the provincial Wildlife Health Program.

See the updated Surveillance and Response Plan for CWD in B.C. (2019)

For the current distribution of CWD in North America see the latest USGS map.

For results on CWD testing in B.C. see CWD Information for Hunters (PDF)

Drop off locations across B.C.

Any B.C. Wildlife or Conservation Officer Service office (during business hours).

Additional locations in high risk areas:

Peace Region

  • North Peace Rod and Gun Club, Fort St John
  • Peace Taxidermy, Hwy 29
  • Richard's Meat, Pouce Coupe

Kootenay Region

  • Gwinner's Country Butcher, Kimberley
  • Rick’s Fine Meats, Cranbrook
  • Wes's Country Meats, Fernie

Know the Risks

If you hunt in areas that CWD affects wild deer, do not bring an intact carcass or any high risk tissues (brain, spinal cord, lymph nodes, organs) back to B.C. This is prohibited by law (BC CWD Regulation). Human importation of infected tissue is the highest threat of introduction to B.C. wildlife.

Stop chronic wasting disease. Do not import deer carcasses. Keep BC wildlife healthy.