We have completed testing all heads received to date from the 2015/16 hunting seasons.
In total we tested 4929 heads and detected CWD in 116 deer (2.4%). This is an increase in annual overall prevalence from the 2.1% in the 4163 heads tested in the 2014 surveillance program.
The 116 cases in 2015 included 105 mule deer, 11 white-tailed deer; 84 males, 31 females, 1 of unknown gender). Majority of these cases (77 of 116; 66%) are mule deer bucks.
The geographic distribution of CWD continues to expand with the disease identified in the 2015/16 sample in 6 WMUs where CWD was not previously known to occur.
These include WMU 116 in southeast; 158, 166, 238, and 242 in eastcentral; and 500 in northeast Alberta. These cases are in the Milk River, Red Deer River, Battle River, and North Saskatchewan River watersheds.
The most remarkable new case is the outlier in WMU 242 approximately 100 km further west than the closest known cases (in WMU 232 and 203). This was a mule deer buck harvested on the northern edge of the Battle River watershed west of Miquelon Lake and approximately 30 km southeast of Edmonton.
Although we know CWD is well-established in the eastern reaches of the Battle River, the case in WMU 242 significantly expands the known distribution of CWD in central Alberta. Cumulatively we have tested 700 deer heads from the Battle River watershed between WMU 242 and WMU 203/232 and all were negative for CWD. Thus, until we have data to show otherwise, the case near Miquelon Lake appears to be an outlier.
The 24-hr freezers are no longer available. However, frozen heads can still be submitted at any Fish and Wildlife office during their office hours. See page 14 of the 2015 Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations for office locations and phone numbers. 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 413.
Note that hunters receive NEGATIVE test results directly at the email address associated with their individual AlbertaRELM account. Negative test results ARE NOT BEING POSTED to individual hunter AlbertaRELM accounts. As such, the email process mentioned above 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.
- Mule Deer: male 1.00 female 0.4
- White-tailed Deer: male 0.3 female 0.1
Thus male mule deer are the most likely, and female white-tailed deer the least likely to be infected with CWD.
The geographic distribution of CWD is clustered in some WMUs but continues to expand westward.
- CWD in Alberta by WMU 2005 – 2014– Apr 8, 2016 (1 page, <1 MB)
The finding of CWD in a moose near the South Saskatchewan River valley in 2012 is the first such case identified in Canada.
- CWD in Moose in Alberta– Feb 2013 (2 pages, <1 MB)
Specific information about the CWD hunter surveillance program is provided at:
Note that the freezer map in the 2015 Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations contains freezer locations for 2014 (the guide is published before details for the fall are available). For 2015 the freezers in Marwayne and Paradise Valley were removed and a few other freezers changed location but stayed within the same town. Freezers were added in north Edmonton, north Calgary, and Bassano.
The CWD Freezer Locations currently posted on the Information for Hunters page has all the correct information for 2015. However the freezers were removed in January and will not return until prior to the 2016 rifle seasons. Current information is available from any Fish and Wildlife office.
- CWD surveillance is focused on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border; however, hunter-killed deer (and elk) are accepted from anywhere in the province (as in all previous years).
- Ongoing NEGATIVE test results are posted to AlbertaRELM and made available to individual hunters. When test results are available the hunter also receives an email that provides the negative result.
- Ongoing POSITIVE test results are provided by phone directly to the hunter who harvested the infected deer.
- CWD Positive Deer Info Sheet– Fall 2015 (2 pages, <1 MB)