Friday, March 07, 2008

ALBERTA NEWS: Opposition to CWD Cull

A rising body count has fuelled protests by Provost-area residents against a government deer cull designed to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).

The latest pictures, snapped Feb. 28 16 km north of Provost (292 km southeast of Edmonton) by Duane Morrell, a member of the Provost and District Fish and Game Association, show the grim reality of the systematic killing.

Bloody deer carcasses litter the snow-covered fields. A helicopter carries the bodies, dangling by cables, to an eight-metre deep pit.

Their heads removed for testing, but their meat and hides unharvested, scores of deer are stacked up along the bottom of the trench.

"After following the helicopter around and witnessing the amount of deer harvested on the 28th, there is no possible way that the deer could be processed in the four-hour time period allowed by the government, leading to the disposal of mass quantities of meat that any hunter would face charges for," Morrell said.

Dave Schmidt explained that association members consider the cull to be overkill - taking a high number of animals for the number of deer testing positive for the disease - and resent the province's methods and the cost of the cull.

But he adds that a protest campaign targeting the current minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Ted Morton, is helping publicize their concerns.

"We're just trying to offer ways and means of doing what they're doing," he said. "But legally and hunteresque-ly and, of course, with all of the meat getting used."

While Morton was unavailable to comment yesterday, in a letter in the Provost News last month he described the cull as a tough but necessary measure to stop the spread of CWD from Saskatchewan.

"Once the program and the testing of the animals are completed, we plan to hold public open houses to share the results of this effort," he said.

Department spokesman Darcy Whiteside said the cull has turned up three positive cases of CWD this year, with seven pending.

And while he couldn't give a total of deer killed, he said some two-thirds of the meat and hides are harvested.


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