Like other Albertans across the country, Alberta elk ranchers are committed to doing the right thing for our province’s future. We are proud of our families, the unique products we produce and the role we play.
So when we read the inaccurate statements woven into Bob Scammell’s article, Forget the ducks — take a look at game ranching, on April 23, we were disappointed, to say the least.
To set the record straight, we offer just a few corrections with the hope we can work together with our fellow Albertans to rid our province of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and focus on a bright future for all Albertans.
Inaccuracy No. 1: Scammell stated, “the role of game farms as centres of infection and the movement of game farmed animals in the spread the infection.”
If we are the centre of CWD, how does Scammell explain that since 2002, we have tested every single one of the more than 43,000 elk that have been harvested or died on our ranches for CWD and only one of those animals has been found to be positive for CWD?
It should also be noted when that one positive animal was identified and the rest of the elk on that ranch were depopulated, not a single one of those animals were positive for CWD.
We maintain meticulous records regarding our animals. These include things like births, deaths, movements, antler production statistics, etc. And, we adhere to all government regulations regarding disease surveillance and control.
Are there any qualified epidemiologists who support Scammell’s position?
Inaccuracy No. 2: “Manitoba which had the good sense and guts to outlaw game ranching several years ago.” This is categorically false, and we would appreciate it if you would provide a correction statement.
Inaccuracy No. 3: “an Alberta government widely rumoured to have been ‘discussing’ ending game ranching.” Please provide the names, dates and statements of individuals responsible for this rumour-mongering. Without supporting evidence, this statement would be similar to someone saying, “It is widely rumoured that government officials are discussing ending Scammell’s ability to … (fill in the blank).”
We stand in defence of Scammell’s ability to work as a journalist, but ask him to provide supporting evidence of facts when they cast doubt upon the future of our chosen profession.
To outlaw elk ranching in Alberta would be the equivalent of outlawing beef production. Our animals have been domesticated for more than five generations and contrary to another one of Scammell’s unsubstantiated and denigrating remarks, we raise our animals on marginal land without the use of added hormones to produce healthy, natural, lean meat and elk velvet antler (EVA).
The meat is ideal for today’s consumer, and modern empirical research conducted in North America, New Zealand and Australia supports the use of EVA to strengthen the immune system, provide nutritional support for joint structure and function, including inflammation conditions (such as arthritis) and improve athletic performance and muscle endurance.
Beyond our profession of elk farming, we take our roles and responsibilities as wildlife conservationists very seriously, and we respect the role that others play in protecting and preserving Alberta’s wildlife and natural resources. We can accomplish a lot more by working together than we can by attacking each other. We welcome a respectful, fact-based discussion on ridding Alberta’s wild deer and elk populations of chronic wasting disease.
Glenda Elkow, Chair
Alberta Elk Commission