PETERBOROUGH – The Ontario government is taking action to help protect wildlife populations and ensure continued hunting opportunities in the province.

The government has passed legislation and developed a plan to allow the Province to act quickly if wildlife diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) – a progressive, fatal brain disorder that mostly affects deer and elk – is discovered in Ontario.

If CWD were detected in Ontario, the legislative changes will allow the government to:

  • Create response zones where special rules would apply, such as requiring hunters to submit animals for disease testing.
  • Enable people to undertake activities that would otherwise be prohibited, such as authorizing a licensed hunter to dispatch symptomatic wildlife within a specified area.
  • Implement long-term measures, such as restricting the exportation of certain live animals from a jurisdiction where CWD has been detected.

“We recognize the significant value wild deer have as an important part of Ontario’s biodiversity, and as a symbol of heritage to many Ontarians,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “These measures will support Ontario’s hunters and an industry that creates jobs and makes an important economic contribution to our province.”

The measures to protect wildlife are part of the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, which will simplify and modernize regulations Ontarians need while eliminating outdated or duplicative requirements.

“One of our top priorities in the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act is protecting our environment and safeguarding public health in the most effective way possible,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “I’m pleased the red tape reduction legislation empowers Ontario to be proactive and get ahead of any potential threats to our wildlife in a direct and streamlined manner.”

“Should CWD be discovered in Ontario, these measures will go a long way to help prevent the spread of the disease to Ontario farmed and wild cervids and protect public health,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “We also encourage Ontario’s cervid farmers to follow the national guidelines for biosecurity to help protect their herds.”

CWD affects members of the cervid family – deer, elk, moose and caribou. While it has not been detected in Ontario, CWD was discovered in 2018 on a deer farm in Quebec, close to the Ontario border. It has also been found in all five states bordering Ontario.

“We applaud the government for enacting these changes that will enable it to respond quickly and decisively to detection of CWD,” said Angelo Lombardo, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. “This is a necessary component of keeping Ontario CWD-free and something the OFAH has been seeking for years.”

Ontario’s new CWD Prevention and Response Plan will ensure the province has the right approaches in place to minimize the risk of the disease entering or spreading within Ontario.