In the 2017/18 surveillance season we received a total of 6429 heads, of which 6340 were suitable for testing. We detected CWD in 327 animals (5.2% of 6340; up from 3.5% in 2016/17).
The positives included 326 deer (280 mule deer, 46 white-tail; 264 males, 62 females) and 1 female elk. As in previous years the majority of cases were mule deer (280 of 327; 86%), particularly mule deer bucks (220 of 327; 67%).
Also as in previous years, species- and gender-specific differences are apparent, although the proportion of infected animals continues to rise in all categories (except moose) (compare to 2016 data at the bottom of this page):
In the 6340 heads that were suitable for determining disease status, CWD was detected in:
- 8.2% of 3417 mule deer
- 1.9% of 2489 white-tailed deer
- 0.4% of 229 elk (primarily from CFB Suffield)
- 0 of 198 moose (primarily from CFB Wainwright)
In the 5903 deer for which gender/sex was reported, CWD was detected in:
- 12.4% of 1778 male mule deer
- 3.7% of 1639 female mule deer
- 2.5% of 1739 male whitetails
- 0.3% of 747 female whitetails
The disease continues to expand further westward into central Alberta.
In the 2017/18 surveillance sample, CWD was detected in seven new Wildlife Management Units (WMU) in the Red Deer/South Saskatchewan/Bow watershed (102, 124, 138, 156) and Battle watershed (204, 206, 228), see map below.
These units are adjacent to previous cases and indicate further geographic spread of CWD westward along major waterways.
Of particular note, a cluster of cases was found in the vicinity of Tofield (WMU 242) and CWD was detected well up the Bow River east of Strathmore (southeast WMU 156).
We also detected CWD in a cow elk from WMU 732 (Canadian Forces Base Suffield).
Since 2012, we tested 2117 elk from WMU 732 and detected CWD in two (0.1%). However, the disease is well established in mule deer and white-tailed deer in areas outside the military base along the Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers.
Alberta began CWD hunter surveillance in 1998 and has one of the best continuous datasets documenting the occurrence and patterns of CWD in wild cervids, specifically in prairie/parkland ecosystems.
The continued support of hunters and landowners over the previous 19 years is the basis for the strength in the surveillance data.
Additional information about preparing and submitting heads can be found at:
The success of the CWD surveillance program relies heavily on participation by hunters, guides, and landowners to ensure a successful harvest that provides heads to be tested. We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of one and all.
The total number of CWD cases detected in wild deer in Alberta since September 2005 is 919.
Note that hunters receive NEGATIVE test results directly at the email address associated with their individual AlbertaRELM account. The email process is the only notification hunters receive when their animal is NEGATIVE for CWD.
As in the past, hunters who harvest a CWD POSITIVE deer are contacted directly by phone (see below).
Patterns of CWD in Alberta
There are significant overall patterns of disease occurrence in Alberta.
CWD continues to occur primarily in mule deer in comparison to white-tailed deer despite testing large numbers of both species. Similarly males are more likely to be infected than females.