Province announces new CWD legislation
PETERBOROUGH – The OFAH was pleased to see the provincial government announcement on Wednesday regarding new measures to protect Ontario's cervid species from chronic wasting disease.
New legislation focusing on rapid response to CWD detection has been passed and it outlines the government action plan should CWD be found in Ontario. This legislation will allow the government to create response zones in areas where hunters would be required to submit animals for testing. It would also allow licensed hunters to dispatch symptomatic wildlife in certain areas, while creating restrictions on the movement of live animals out of areas where CWD has been detected.
"The OFAH has been pushing the government to take serious action on CWD. These amendments to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act are incredibly important because we know that a rapid response is needed if CWD is detected and these changes give the government the power to mount this response," says OFAH wildlife biologist, Dr. Keith Munro. "We are also very pleased that the Minister has committed to working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs on the issue of deer farms, which are the major source of risk for CWD being introduced into the province."
Chronic wasting disease has been a major OFAH advocacy priority for years and concern for its spread became more heightened in 2018 when the disease was detected just across the Ontario border in Quebec, which makes news of these legislative changes all that more important.
"The OFAH has been advocating for many of these exact changes for years -- changes that will significantly reduce the risk of CWD entering the province, ensuring the health of Ontario's cervids and all the benefits they provide," Dr. Munro says. "Prevention remains the most important priority as it is much easier to prevent CWD from arriving in Ontario than trying to respond to it once it arrives, but the announced changes make some real improvements that will help keep CWD out of the province."
As Dr. Munro noted, OFAH advocacy on CWD has been ongoing for many years. Earlier this year the OFAH held a conference on CWD, bringing together experts from across North America to discuss the serious nature of this disease. Following the conference, the OFAH created the Canadians Concerned about CWD, a diverse group of stakeholders from across the country working to combat CWD, while keeping individuals and groups across Canada connected and informed on the latest CWD news and facilitating opportunities for collaboration on public awareness and advocacy campaigns.
To learn more, visit www.ofah.org/ccac.