New Research on Chronic Wasting Disease Released

    OTTAWA, Feb. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - New research funded by the Canadian
Wildlife Federation shows that chronic wasting disease in wild and farmed deer
and elk will likely spread across North America and there is little wildlife
managers can do about it.
    The report "Both Sides of the Fence: A Strategic Review of Chronic
Wasting Disease Management Costs and Benefits" was prepared for the Canadian
Wildlife Federation by Dr. Paul C. James, a research fellow from the Canadian
Plains Research Center, University of Regina.
    Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform
encephalopathy (TSE) of deer, elk (wapiti), and moose caused by unusual
infectious agents known as prions. The disease was discovered in 1967 in mule
deer at a wildlife research facility in northern Colorado and causes chronic
weight loss that leads to death. There is no known relationship between CWD
and any other TSE in wildlife or people.
    "The Canadian Wildlife Federation encourages governments, agriculture and
wildlife organizations to review the report and reassess their approaches to
managing chronic wasting disease," said Rick Bates, Executive Director of the
Canadian Wildlife Federation. "This report provides a much needed full
socio-economic analysis of the issue to better inform management choices by
everyone involved."
    According to the report, despite the expenditure of millions of dollars
fighting CWD, there is still much unknown about the disease, it has not been
contained and it is now firmly established in the wild, so it will likely
continue to spread. The Canadian Wildlife Federation funds research on a
variety of issues related to wildlife and habitat to improve understanding and
promote dialogue on conservation issues.
    Please e-mail Canadian Wildlife Federation Conservation Researcher Leigh
Edgar at to obtain an electronic copy of the 25-page

    About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:

    The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a national non-profit organization
dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By
spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research,
promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending changes to
policy and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in
which Canadians can live in harmony with nature.


    The following is a Research Summary for "Both Sides of the Fence: A
Strategic Review of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Costs and
    This analysis by Dr. Paul James, Research Fellow, Canadian Plains
Research Centre, University of Regina, was funded by the Canadian Wildlife
Federation. The views are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

    1. CWD is highly contagious, persistent, and mobile among both wild and
    farmed cervids and the ecosystem.

    2. Despite these characteristics, CWD poses low (known) environmental,
    social, and economic risks.

    3. Despite lost markets, the game farming industry is weathering the
    storm through the increasing demand for 'shoot farms'.

    4. Despite many millions of dollars spent, CWD continues to spread among
    both wild and farmed herds in North America.

    5. The 'fence' (between wild and farmed herds) no longer exists

    6. Time to re-evaluate CWD management strategies and policies?

    7. Perhaps better to take an integrated ecosystem approach with increased
    levels of cooperation between the various players?

    8. Perhaps approach CWD not as a traditional communicable disease, but as
    an environmental contaminant, like a chlorinated hydrocarbon (e.g. DDT)?

    9. Should we do nothing? No...with prions, one can never say
    never....however, it would seem to make sense to reduce emphasis on
    eradication and containment of CWD and increase emphasis on surveillance
    and monitoring.

    10. Further research? Yes, we need to increase the level of certainty
    about the risks that CWD poses; need more rapid testing of wild cervids,
    and a method for testing the ecosystem.

    Other Research Findings by Dr. Paul James:

    CWD binds to certain soil particles and increases its infectivity by
several hundred times...increased mobility?
    The closely related scrapie can persist in the soil for at least 16
years. CWD likely does too.

    Research Risk Assessment Findings by Dr. Paul James:

    Does CWD Pose a Risk to Other Species of Wildlife? Low Known Risk
    Does CWD Pose a Risk to Other Species of Livestock? Low Known Risk
    Does CWD Pose a Risk to Human Health? Low Known Risk

For further information:

For further information: Rick Bates, Executive Director, Canadian
Wildlife Federation, (306) 527-8959,;; Heather
Robison, Media Relations Officer, Canadian Wildlife Federation, (306)

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