AFN res­o­lu­tion to erase CWD by elim­i­nat­ing game farms

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Prairies - BY HEATHER CAMERON

Al­berta Lib­eral MLA Dr. David Swann has pro­claimed his sup­port for an As­sem­bly of First Na­tions res­o­lu­tion that calls for the phas­ing out of game farms to help com­bat Chronic Wast­ing Dis­ease.

Chronic Wast­ing Dis­ease (CWD) is a newly emerged in­fec­tious dis­ease af­fect­ing deer, elk, moose, and pos­si­bly cari­bou.

“Game farm­ing con­trib­utes to Chronic Wast­ing Dis­ease be­cause the im­mune sys­tem is vul­ner­a­ble to stress of all kinds, in­clud­ing cap­ture, trans­port, con­fine­ment and han­dling by hu­mans as well as in­ti­mate con­nec­tions with other an­i­mals,” Dr. Swann said.

Dr. Swann says that about 30 years ago, the PC gov­ern­ment, against the ad­vice of wildlife ex­perts across North Amer­ica, de­cided to ‘di­ver­sify agri­cul­ture’ and sell game.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­utes from a July 2017 As­sem­bly of First Na­tions meet­ing, CWD threat­ens ir­repara­ble harm to wildlife and to First Na­tions rights to hunt, fish and gather as promised and the im­pacts on wildlife are al­ready pro­jected to be se­vere, with di­rect im­pli­ca­tions for re­liant peo­ples and com­mu­ni­ties.

“One ma­jor risk to Agri­cul­ture is in­ter­na­tional boy­cotts of grain, grasses and straw since the an­i­mals may con­sume con­tam­i­nated screen­ings and grasses,” Dr. Swann said. “The prion has now been iden­ti­fied as also grow­ing in plants.”

The Last Straw - A Last Chance to Pre­vent Re­stric­tive Trade Ac­tions Lead­ing Ex­perts Weigh Con­tain­ment of Vir­u­lent, Sis­ter to ‘Mad Cow’ Dis­ease, a news re­lease shared on De­cem­ber 6, 2018, on be­half of health, agri­cul­ture, hunt­ing and con­ser­va­tions groups fol­low­ing the pas­sage of the AFN res­o­lu­tion, weighed in on the is­sue. The re­lease men­tioned that Nor­way has re­cently im­posed trade re­stric­tions on North Amer­i­can agri­cul­tural prod­ucts from prov­inces or states in­fected with Chronic Wast­ing Dis­ease.

“Nor­way’s re­cent ac­tion on hay and straw from 25 states and 3 prov­inces con­firmed with Chronic Wast­ing Dis­ease can ex­pand to other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and spread to other re­gions. Coun­tries aren’t just des­per­ate to avoid this hor­rific dis­ease, they can use this to lev­er­age tens of bil­lions of dol­lars per year in com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage against North Amer­ica,” says Dar­rel Rowledge, Di­rec­tor of the Al­liance for Pub­lic Wildlife.

Rowledge says that five lead­ing ex­perts from fed­eral de­part­ments of agri­cul­ture, health, and en­vi­ron­ment met with stake­hold­ers in Ot­tawa on De­cem­ber 3, 2018, to re­view the back­ground of the is­sues and threats, and to ini­ti­ate di­a­logue re­gard­ing emer­gency ac­tions re­gard­ing CWD.

“No­tably, not a sin­gle ex­pert dis­agreed that im­me­di­ate ac­tions are vi­tal, and must con­tain the spread, limit hu­man ex­po­sure, and out­line a col­lab­o­ra­tive, sci­ence and ev­i­dence-based ap­proach,” Rowledge said.

Provin­cial of­fi­cials, Dr. Swann says, are re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing wildlife while the Canada Food In­spec­tion Agency is re­spon­si­ble for in­spec­tion and test­ing of an­i­mals.

“Al­berta farms ap­pear to have low in­ci­dence for now,” Dr. Swann said. “How­ever, with 50% of Saskatchewan game farms in­fected and in­fect­ing wildlife, it may spread into eastern Al­berta. Once CWD is dis­cov­ered in a wild an­i­mal, the en­tire herd is killed.”

Dr. Swann says that so far, no cow or hu­man has been in­flicted with CWD, but a study done by the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary done last year found that sev­eral Ma­caque mon­keys ac­quired CWD after eat­ing in­fected deer meat.

“This raises ques­tions which are un­think­able and should de­mand strong joint ac­tion from fed­eral and provin­cial gov­ern­ments to pro­tect feed and our food chain and strong reg­u­la­tions about the han­dling of in­fected crea­tures,” Dr. Swann said. “Un­for­tu­nately, many deer are con­sumed by many with­out test­ing the an­i­mals be­fore­hand.”

Dr. Swann says that con­trol mea­sures are fun­da­men­tal when deal­ing with any in­fec­tious dis­ease, which in­volve stop­ping the source and prop­a­ga­tion of the agent.

“We must learn the lessons of BSE – which all the ex­perts said couldn’t spread to hu­mans – and saw hun­dreds of peo­ple die of vCJD,” Dr. Swann said. “On the bases of pro­tect­ing the fu­ture for cervids and our hunt­ing com­mu­ni­ties, as well as tourism, recre­ation and Indige­nous liveli­hoods, we must act now. Act­ing now will also pre­serve agri­cul­ture from in­ter­na­tional boy­cotts and the po­ten­tial hu­man health threats. Mul­ti­ple de­part­ments of both fed­eral and provin­cial gov­ern­ments must com­mu­ni­cate and plan and act swiftly be­fore we have a cri­sis that makes BSE look small by com­par­i­son.”

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