The fight against chronic wasting disease

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The Ministry of Climate and Environment has allocated NOK 18.6 million to combat chronic wasting disease in deer animals. The money will, amongst other things, be used to take out the wild reindeer herd in the Nordfjella- mountains.

- We face a very challenging situation in the encounter with this lethal animal sickness, chronic wasting disease, which has been discovered in the wild reindeer herds in the mountains of Nordfjella. In such a situation we must do everything we can to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas of wildlife or other deer species, says Minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen.

If control of the disease is not successful, it will entail serious consequences for the harvesting of our wilderness resources. A spread of the disease to domesticated reindeer could have major financial consequences for reindeer husbandry practitioners. It will also imply strong restrictions on both domestic sales and exports of reindeer meat.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Veterinary Institute have established that the best means of controlling chronic wasting disease is to kill the infected wild herd. This applies to the herd in the Nordfjella reindeer area, zone 1, located in the counties Sogn og Fjordane and Buskerud.

The animals must bee put down by 1 May 2018. A total of 2,000 - 2,500 animals will be shot in a short period. Due to the nature of the disease, slaughter and slaughter waste must be handled with special care and it will all be very resource-intensive. There will be collected samples from the dead animals in order to get more knowledge about the spread of the disease. Statens naturoppsyn (the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate) is central in the work of organizing and implementing the task.

- We are now working on a detailed plan to get wild reindeer back into the area soon being cleaned. We hope that in a few years, we will once again have a healthy and wild reindeer flock in the Nordfjella, says Helgesen.