Chronic Wasting Disease - New Permit System

What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a degenerative, fatal brain disease that affects certain members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, elk, moose and potentially caribou. The disease is believed to be caused by abnormal proteins called prions and is in the same family of diseases as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or Mad Cow Disease).

There is currently no cure for CWD.

Can humans contract the disease?

There is no evidence to date that CWD can be transmitted to humans.

Has CWD been found in Ontario cervids?

CWD has not been detected in Ontario to date, but has been found in 2 provinces and 18 states, including several nearby jurisdictions (e.g., New York, Saskatchewan, Minnesota). The movement of live cervids has been linked to the initial spread of CWD from the United States to Canada (Saskatchewan), as well as from Canada to South Korea.

What's being done to prevent CWD from being introduced in Ontario?

In 2005, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and OMAFRA consulted with the public to develop the Ontario Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance and Response Plan. Prevention is a cornerstone of this plan.

An amendment to the regulation for Possession, Buying and Selling of Wildlife under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act came into effect on August 17, 2010. This amendment will help minimize the risk of introducing CWD into Ontario by prohibiting the transport of live captive woodland caribou, white-tailed deer, American elk or moose into the province, unless done so under a permit.

What will the permit process involve?

The Ministry of Natural Resources will only issue a permit following written notice by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that the requirements to issue a permit have been met.

The requirements that must be met to receive a written notice are specified in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act amendment. These include the jurisdictional CWD surveillance program information, herd health history and certification by a qualified veterinarian. All documentation will be forwarded for review and verification by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Why is it important to prevent CWD from entering Ontario?

In provinces and states where CWD has been detected, significant social, economic and environmental impacts have occurred. In some areas, the disease threatens the sustainability of native wildlife such as deer, moose, and elk. In other jurisdictions, recreational hunting, and the associated economic benefits of this activity, has been harmed by this disease.

No jurisdiction has been able to eradicate the disease once it has been introduced to cervids in the wild despite extraordinary efforts and expense. This is why Ontario has taken the above actions, and needs to remain vigilant in these efforts.

Who can I contact for more information?

For more information about the transport of live woodland caribou, white-tailed deer, American elk or moose into Ontario, please contact:

Kristy Symon
Administrative Services Representative - Animal Health and Welfare Branch
(519) 537-8862

Learn more

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAFRA)
Creation Date: 18 August 2010
Last Reviewed: 14 March 2014