Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been discovered in a new wildlife management zone, meaning the disease has now been confirmed in 45 of Saskatchewan’s 83 wildlife management zones. Thirty-four cases of CWD have been identified in the province this year.
The new case involved a 3½ year-old elk bull in zone 42E, south of Melfort, that was submitted as part of the ministry’s voluntary CWD surveillance program.
“Hunters play a key role in helping identify the presence and spread of chronic wasting disease in Saskatchewan,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said. “The information collected through the submission of heads is vital to understanding how the disease is impacting wildlife populations in the province and efforts that can be taken to slow the spread of the disease.”
CWD is a fatal nervous system disease that affects members of the deer family, including deer, elk, moose and caribou. The disease, which was first discovered in 2000, threatens populations of these species. Research suggests that CWD impacts in some areas are resulting in decreased survival and population decline in mule deer.
The disease has not been detected in humans. However, it is recommended that people do not consume meat from animals that are known to be infected.
The Ministry of Environment encourages hunters to continue submitting heads from deer, elk, moose, and caribou for free testing. Prior to submitting a head for testing, visit the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative/Government of Saskatchewan site at www.cwdsk.ca to complete the form and receive a tracking number.
“The information obtained from the voluntary testing program is critical to evaluating the spread of CWD and guiding our management strategies,” Ministry of Environment Wildlife Health Specialist Dr. Iga Stasiak said. “Hunters are encouraged to register online before taking their cervid heads to any Ministry of Environment field office. There is no charge for testing and you will get your results in two to eight weeks.”