Golden District Rod and Gun Club collects samples from deer, elk, moose for CWD

Golden District Rod and Gun Club collects samples from deer, elk, moose for CWD

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a complex disease that kills white tail deer, mule deer, moose, and elk in North America.

It is not recommended that hunters consume meat that has been affected by CWD. This is why the provincial government and the Golden District Rod and Gun Club have come together to help detect the disease before it comes to British Columbia. Hunters can voluntarily bring the head of their kill to the Rod and Gun Club, where it will be sent off for testing. Hunters can receive their prize back if they like to keep the antlers, or mount.

CWD is contagious. If an infected animal crosses paths with other animals, it can pass on the fatal disease through grass and other foliage. The disease is cause by an abnormal protein called a prion. The prion is long lasting, doesn’t break down, and is resistant to heat. They build up in the body, especially in the brain tissue and central nervous system. CWD is a degenerative neuro disease that is always fatal to the animals it affects.

“You can’t see it. The only way to diagnose the disease is actually looking at the brain tissue or lymphnode tissue under a microscope,” said B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources wildlife health biologist Cait Nelson.

The B.C. Wildlife Health Program has been surveilling for CWD since 2002, and it has not been detected in British Columbia yet, although it has been found at the borders of the province in the United States and Alberta.

“With this increased risk, it was critical that we had a sample size that was large enough to give us confidence in the results,” Nelson said, adding that surveillance has been based on voluntary submissions. “Surveillance is also critical in detecting the disease early in case it does show up.”

Infected animals can take from several months to two years before they show visible signs of CWD.

“Most of the animals that test positive for CWD are in fact healthy looking hunter harvested animals,” Nelson said.

At later stages of the disease, animals may show signs of extreme weight loss, stumbling, and poor coordination as the brain starts to malfunction.

“As far as we know, there’s no evidence that humans can get it. There’s never been a human case of CWD,” Nelson said, adding that even still, meat from those animals should not be eaten. “The health authorities across the board recommend a precautionary approach.”

In the Golden area, submitting samples is not mandatory, but in seven management areas, it is. The Kootenay region is considered a high priority for testing by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources due to its proximity to the United States and Alberta.

“We work really hard to educate people on the disease, particularly the risk factors on how it might enter the province,” Nelson said. “The number one way it might enter the province isn’t by natural animal movement.”

The unintentional import of an infected animal is the most likely way the diease could spread to B.C. If parts of the carcass or some of the tissue end up in the environment, prions can end up in the soil and remain in the environment.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources is working with stakeholder groups to facilitate the education and testing program for CWD.

“I think that collaborating approach has really translated into an effective program,” Nelson said. “We’re sitting at a table with our partners, and we will be figuring it out together.”

For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease, visit

To submit a sample, contact Roy Pagliaro at 250-344-5737 or 250–9024.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Five-year-old Bayne Krause poses for a photo with his mom Marianne. Bayne’s shirt reads, ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis. Help keep me healthy, please social distance.’ Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay mom promotes awareness of cystic fibrosis

Marianne Krause wants people to know what it’s like for her five-year-old son to live with CF

A rolled-over semi along Highway 95. The RCMP have responded to nine collisions in the last month. (Brain Duchovnay photo)
Golden/Field RCMP recap last two months

The RCMP responded to 463 calls to service over the last two months

Details will be made available in the next few days. (File photo)
UPDATED: Community vaccine program to open in Golden

The clinic will be held from Saturday, May 8 until Sunday, May 16.

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Shuswap shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read