In February 2000, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Cervid Farming Industry agreed that action needed to be undertaken to attempt to eradicate CWD from the farmed cervid herd in Canada. It was agreed that the goal was eradication, including depopulation of known infected herds with compensation paid to the owners of those herds. In many Provinces, postmortem testing of every dead cervid for CWD became mandatory, however this was the only approach to testing known at the time. The lack of a live test made movement of live cervids to other herds risky. To minimize those risks and concerns, CFIA worked with the industry and Provinces to design and implement the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Herd Certification Program (HCP).
Compliance with the HCP provides assurances to potential purchasers of animals that a purchase from a herd with the same level has the same risk of being infected with CWD. The level of assurance of CWD freedom depends on the length of time the herd has been enrolled in the program. Any owner of elk or deer who agrees to comply with the provisions of the HCP may enroll.
CWD status is determined on a herd basis by testing every cervid that dies, the absence of clinical signs, and the lack of exposure to CWD over a designated period of time. In addition, there are requirements for Identification, up to date Inventory maintenance, adequate facilities and biosecurity measures, all verified by an annual third- party inspection.
There are six levels in the certification program, from the entry level, Level E, to the highest level, Certified. A minimum of five years is necessary for an enrolled herd to reach the certified level.
The United States has also adopted an HCP, and most inter- jurisdictional movement of live cervids now requires the herd to be Certified Status, excepting animals going to immediate harvest.
The HCP requires much attention to detail, but all of it is simply good management, and worthwhile to facilitate access to all the best markets. Compliance with the HCP also reassures our friends and neighbours that we are responsible livestock managers.