Officials trying to confirm disease among wildlife

Deer, moose and elk hunters are being asked to confirm wildlife are not infected with bovine tuberculosis.

Deer, moose and elk hunters in the Cherryville area are once again being asked to confirm wildlife are not infected with bovine tuberculosis.

Hunters are encouraged to drop off the heads of their harvested deer, elk  or moose at collection freezers at Frank’s General Store and the RT Ranch Sausage and Custom Cutting.

“Bags and identification tags will be provided at the freezers,” states a release.

Arrangements can also be made to drop them off in Lumby by calling Susan  Latimer at 250-547-9207. Antlers should be removed because they take up too much freezer space.

In 2011, seven cases of bovine tuberculosis were found in local area livestock.

“Rigorous monitoring is in place, and there have been no  reported cases since then, but a working group of the Canadian Food  Inspection Agency, the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Agriculture are undertaking this study to  ensure that the disease has not transferred to wildlife in the area,” states the government release.

“So far, there is no indication that wildlife are infected, but undertaking the study is an important step to confirm the disease is not present.”

This is the second year of the program, which is scheduled to run for a total of three years.

In the previous year, only deer were tested, but this year, the program is being expanded to increase both sample size and also check other ungulates in the area.

Bovine tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease that can debilitate and kill deer, moose, elk and cattle.

The bacteria is primarily transmitted through close contact, coughing and sneezing, although fecal and urine contamination of shared feed and water sources can be involved. Infection is more likely to occur when there is close contact between individual animals, so high animal densities can play a role.

“The type of tuberculosis that occurs in wildlife and cattle can infect humans but this is very rare,”  states the release.

“To prevent transmission, hunters should thoroughly cook meat and routinely wash their hands and wear gloves when field dressing game.”

To learn more about bovine tuberculosis visit, www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/wldhealth/diseases/specificdiseases/tuberculosis.htm