Officials with the Québec ministère des Forêts, de la Faune, et des Parcs (MFFP) (English; Ministry of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks) are working hard to contain the first-ever outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) (French; La maladie débilitante chronique des cervidés) in the province of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge. A case was allegedly discovered in a domestic deer herd on a local farm and was properly identified by department staff on September 14 which immediately began efforts to identify if the disease has spread to the wild deer population in the area or if it spread from the wild population to the domestic herd.
CWD attacks the central nervous system of whitetail deer. In the U.S., cases have occurred in Wisconsin and New York. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website, the animals become emaciated, disoriented, lose control of bodily functions, develop extreme thirst, and eventually die. Not all deer infected with CWD initially show symptoms, but all deer infected will inevitably succumb to it.
The MFFP has immediately created a series of zones to investigate CWD and contain its spread. The control area affects part of hunting zones 10E and 9O in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Harrington, Notre-Dame-des-Bonsecours, and Boileau. All hunting and fishing in that area is now prohibited until November 18. Off-road driving at any time of the day is also prohibited. The MFFP is asking residents of the control area to be on an extra lookout for deer poaching as it can increase the chances of CWD spreading. All incidents of poaching should be reported to the SOS Braconnage phone line at; 1-800-463-2191.
An enhanced monitoring area has been created around the control area that also covers the same hunting zones. Hunting, fishing, and off-road travel are still permitted in this area, but all deer and moose harvested must be taken to one of the registration stations that have been set up so that samples can be taken for testing. The stations are located at; the municipal garage in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Co-op Laurel-Station in Wentworth-Nord, Depanneur Telmosse in Mont-Tremblant, Sport NR in Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, and Débitage des Cantons in Lochaber. Removing certain parts of a deer or moose are prohibited in the area and hunters are required to butcher within a 45-kilometre radius.
Hunters who have purchased licences to hunt in the prohibited area are eligible to have their licences cancelled and fees reimbursed. The MFFP is treating each licence on a case-by-case basis. Inquiries from hunters are to be directed to; [email protected] Complete information, including a map about the Chronic Wasting Disease situation is available in English at; https://mffp.gouv.qc.ca/chronic-wasting-disease-cervids/?lang=en
Grenville-sur-la-Rouge Mayor Tom Arnold said the MFFP has already been culling deer within the control area. He has not heard of any concerns from local residents and hunters yet but noted “It’s not contagious to humans but they don’t recommend you touch it,” if an animal with CWD is encountered. The MFFP and the municipality are not identifying the deer farm the disease was allegedly found at. “It’s best to keep everything confidential” the Mayor said, adding that provincial officials are still trying to determine of the disease originated with the domestic herd or from wild deer and was transferred to the domestic herd.
According to Arnold, the municipality was only fully informed of the CWD situation on September 20 and the MFFP first notified the MRC d’Argenteuil. The Mayor is however satisfied that the provincial authorities acted quickly, took proper measures and said he has personally told some residents, especially anglophones who may not have seen the stories that have already appeared in the French-language media. “I feel it’s our responsibility to notify people,” he said.
Ian Kendrick owns Passion Nature, a hunting and fishing supply store in Grenville. He said, “A lot of people have been coming in and saying, “What’s going on?” Kendrick said the Chronic Wasting Disease situation isn’t really affecting his business because his customers come from all over and hunt in many different locations in Québec and Ontario. The business owner has no problems with the measures being taken by the MFFP to contain the CWD outbreak. “I understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it,” he said, emphasizing “It appears to be a very isolated incident.” Hunters who have bought licences at Passion Nature have asked Kendrick if they can be refunded for them at the store, but he said that is not possible. They must inquire with the MFFP. He said that due to the situation, some hunters might be unsure if they should spend the money on hunting licence if there is a risk they might not be able to use it. A deer licence for Québec residents’ costs $56.00 and a licence for a non-resident is $300.00. Kendrick, who is not a resident of Québec is not worried and said, “I’m going to buy my licence,” because the CWD outbreak is limited to such a small territory.