Quebec's wildlife ministry bans hunting white-tailed deer in Laurentians, Outaouais
Decision was made after chronic wasting disease was detected in deer on a Laurentian livestock farm
Hunters in Quebec's Laurentian and Outaouais regions will have to hold off on trapping and hunting white-tailed deer this year so the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks can test whether a disease similar to mad cow is spreading amongst the species.
The decision was made after one case was detected in a livestock farm in the Laurentians, north of Montreal.
Hunting and trapping white-tailed deer will be prohibited until Nov. 18 in an area of about 400 square kilometres that stretches over parts of the Laurentians and Outaouais regions.
Quebec Wildlife officers will scout, bait and kill white-tailed deer to find out if this disease, which is called chronic wasting disease and is similar to mad cow disease, has touched animals outside the livestock farm where the first case was detected.
Chronic wasting disease has been discovered in mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk — both in the wild and at farms — in 13 U.S. states, as well as in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The disease, which has no known cure in animals, affects their nervous systems. It can be transmitted between animals through their saliva or through contact with their urine and feces.
Disease 'extremely hard to eliminate'
According to Ministry of Wildlife spokesperson Nicolas Bégin, the point is to find out whether the disease has spread in the wild.
"If that's the case, we would need to stop it as quickly as possible, because we know that once this disease is introduced in the wild, it is extremely hard to eliminate it," Bégin said.
It is not considered transmissible to humans by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, according to its website.
But the CFIA does recommend on its website that any tissue that may have come from an infected animal not be used or consumed by humans.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, field agents and the Ministry will conduct free sampling and analysis to allow hunters to know if the slaughtered animal is carrying the disease.
It has also announced that it will refund or cancel the licenses of hunters affected by the hunting ban, under certain conditions.
The ministry is inviting hunters to contact SOS Poaching at 1-800-463-2191 to report any hunting sightings within the prohibited areas, as well as the presence of any deer with signs that exhibits signs of the disease.
Based on a report from Radio-Canada