Deer heads must be tested

Hunters must continue to submit the heads of deer hunted in the eastern part of the province to test for chronic wasting disease.

Hunters must continue to submit the heads of deer hunted in the eastern part of the province to test for chronic wasting disease.

Impacted wildlife management areas stretch along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border from the United States and north near Bonnyville.

Last year, hunters submitted more than 5,000 deer heads to Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and 19 tested positive for the disease, up from 12 in 2009.

A fatal disease for deer, chronic wasting causes loss of co-ordination, weight loss and excessive salivating. It is slowly spreading west, said Darcy Whiteside, spokesperson with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

The majority of deer affected are in southeast Alberta, around Medicine Hat. A harsh winter helped reduce the deer population in that area last winter, he said.

The disease has not been detected beyond southeastern Alberta in animals voluntarily submitted by hunters or in those that were victims of road kill, he said. “We believe we can through monitoring and through wildlife management stop the progression of the disease west,” Whiteside said.

Fish and Wildlife staff will call hunters if their deer tests positive for the disease so hunters can decide if they want to consume the meat.

Antlers and the skull plate can be removed before the head is submitted. For more information, visit www.srd.alberta.ca/fishwildlife.