To better serve site visitors, Government of Alberta ministry web content is being centralized on Webpages on this ministry site will be either relocated to or removed over the next few months. Messaging and redirects will help guide you to updated content during and after this transition. Scheduled completion date for this project is March 31, 2019. Thank you for your patience as we proceed with these changes.

Survey of Wild Deer & Elk

In 1996, the Fish and Wildlife Division of Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) developed a program to assess the presence or absence of CWD in free-ranging elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer in Alberta. The primary objectives are to:

  • Collect and analyze heads of wild deer and elk for evidence of CWD.
  • Provide surveillance data necessary to assess the geographic distribution of CWD occurring in wild populations within the province.
  • Co-ordinate the program with similar programs in farmed elk and deer.

The Division works co-operatively with user groups, primarily hunters, guides, and local residents as well as provincial agriculture staff to achieve these objectives. Programs are based largely on submission of heads of hunter-killed deer.

Additional samples are collected by Fish and Wildlife staff during disease control or routine field activities. Emaciated deer, elk, moose, caribou, or antelope are particularly targeted for testing.

Surveillance Target Areas

The wildlife surveillance program focuses on identified CWD risk areas, primarily

  • Along the Alberta/Saskatchewan border.
  • Around any confirmed case of CWD in wild or farmed cervids in Alberta.

In addition, random targeted areas elsewhere in the province may be chosen for increased surveillance effort.

Harvested deer head requests

Heads of hunter-killed deer and elk are requested primarily through a communications package to inform hunters via

  • The wildlife disease web pages of the Fish and Wildlife Division of AEP
  • My Wild Alberta website
  • Materials sent to outdoor magazines, newspaper and radio outlets, hunting licence vendors, and hunting organizations
  • Direct contact between hunters and Fish and Wildlife staff
  • Notices sent to draw licence recipients

Laboratory tests of wild deer and elk are conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and results reported to Fish and Wildlife on an on-going basis. Summary test results are available at:

All hunters who submit deer heads for CWD surveillance will be informed of test results from their deer. In addition, the public are given a general notification of positive cases found in Alberta via our disease web pages.


Page Information

Updated: Apr 25, 2018