The Ontario government is taking further action to reduce the risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD) from entering the province. These measures will better protect wildlife populations and support continued hunting opportunities.
CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects members of the cervid family - deer, elk, moose, and caribou. While it has not been detected in Ontario, it is important to remain vigilant. CWD was discovered in 2018 on a Quebec deer farm close to the Ontario border. It has also been found in all five U.S. states bordering Ontario.
"It's important that we do everything we can to prevent CWD from entering Ontario," said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "The changes we've made will help protect Ontario's wildlife and support sustainable hunting, which creates jobs and makes an important economic contribution to our province."
Following public consultation, the government has amended regulations under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to:
- prohibit people from importing into Ontario live, captive cervids from outside of the province, with some exceptions;
- prohibit people from moving live cervids from one part of Ontario to another, with some exceptions;
- expand the existing prohibition on the use or possession of lures, scents and attractants made from cervid parts to include any purpose beyond hunting; and
- expand the existing prohibition on import of high-risk parts of cervids hunted in other jurisdictions.
"Keeping chronic wasting disease out of Ontario is a critical part of protecting farmed cervids and keeping our food supply as safe as possible," said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "The measures announced by Minister Yakabuski today, along with my ministry's testing program, will increase our confidence that Ontario remains free of the disease."
In December 2019, Ontario released a CWD Prevention and Response Plan that will ensure the province has the right measures in place to minimize the risk of the disease entering or spreading within the province. These additional changes will enhance the protections that are already in place.
- Ontario’s cervid farmers are encouraged to follow national guidelines for cervid farm-level biosecurity to help protect their herds and consider enrolling in the Voluntary Herd Certification Program through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Canadian Sheep Federation.
- The province conducts an annual CWD surveillance program, which would help detect the disease at an early stage and minimize the risk of it spreading throughout the province.
- Since 2002, the government has tested more than 13,000 wild deer and elk for CWD; all test results have been negative.
- Deer hunters spend more than $275 million annually in Ontario, which helps support jobs in many rural and northern communities.