VANCOUVER -- Hunters in part of B.C. must submit the heads of certain deer as part of a wildlife management program in the province.

The provincial government now requires hunters to submit the heads of mule and white-tailed deer, if the deer were killed in specific parts of the Kootenay region.

The mandatory sampling program began Sept. 1 and runs until Dec. 20. It applies to deer harvested in the following wildlife management units: 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6 and 4-7. These units are located along the southern border of B.C., the province said.

The deer heads will be tested for chronic wasting disease, which the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development describes as a "progressive, fatal nervous system disease."

CWD can affect deer, elk and moose, and can be spread through infected to healthy animals.

It can also spread through soil, food and water. It is not known to affect humans or other animals, the ministry says.

B.C.'s Peace and East Kootenay regions are treated as high-risk areas, because CWD is known to be in Alberta and Montana.

The disease has not yet been detected in B.C., but 64 animals have tested positive in the last year in northwestern Montana.

The province says it's the first time CWD has been detected west of the Rocky Mountains.