FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Hunters in the B.C. Peace Region are being encouraged to part with the heads of any deer, elk, or moose they manage to bag this hunting season to allow for a post-mortem examination for signs of a deadly – and incurable – disease.
Biologist Brian Patterson has been subcontracted by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to run its program that monitors for signs of chronic wasting disease in cervids in Northeast B.C.
He said that chronic wasting disease is a form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that affects deer, elk and moose. Other TSE’s include mad cow disease, which affects bovines, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease which affects humans.
TSE’s are caused by misfolded proteins called prions, which cause cells in the brain and neural tissue to die, giving the brain a ‘spongy’ appearance.
Prions diseases are always fatal, and no cure has yet been discovered. Chronic wasting disease has been reported in wild animals in 23 U.S. states, as well as in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Between 2002 and 2016, biologists examined 805 heads of cervids that were hunted in the B.C. Peace Region, however, the number of submitted heads has decreased in the last few years from a high 221 in 2008 to less than 50 every year since.
Patterson said that to help as an incentive, the provincial government has partnered with sporting good stores, including Backcountry in Fort St. John to launch a Chronic Wasting Disease Awareness Program.
Hunters can bring in a freshly-killed deer, elk, or moose head and keep the antlers and skull plate intact at either specified depot in North Peace area: the North Peace Rod & Gun Club and the FrontCounterBC office inside the Beaton Building in Fort St. John.
The depots will then give hunters a voucher to enter for a draw to win a Tikka Hunting package. There’s no limit to the number of entries, provided each animal was legally hunted and entries are submitted before December 10th.
For more information, contact Backcountry in Fort St. John or the local FrontCounterBC office.