Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment is asking hunters to submit the heads of all deer, moose, elk and caribou harvested this season for Chronic Wasting Disease testing.
CWD is a fatal and infectious central nervous system disease in deer with no known cure.
The ministry is looking for submissions in the boreal transition zone to help evaluate CWD risk in caribou. The wildlife management zones are 43, 47, 48, 49, 50, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57 and 67. Zones 47 and 54 are near Lloydminster and North Battleford.
Hunters who collected game in WMZs 9, 10, 2W, 35 and 37 in southern Saskatchewan are asked to submit the heads of all mule deer and white-tailed deer for testing. The ministry hopes to collect 300 samples in each of the zones to obtain more information on the presence and spread of the disease.
“Hunters play an important role in supporting wildlife health, and submitted more than 2,000 heads for CWD testing last year,” says Environment Minister Dustin Duncan in a news release. “Understanding how this disease spreads is critical in evaluating potential population impacts, and in developing disease management plans.”
No human cases of CWD have been found but the ministry recommends hunters to avoid eating the meat until after they receive test results.
Hunters can reduce the spread of CWD to new parts of the province by properly disposing of animal carcasses. The ministry recommends to field dress and quarter the carcass in the field instead of transporting it to another area.
CWD was discovered in provincial game farm animals in 1996 and then transitioned to wild mule deer in 2000. The disease is found in deer, elk and moose in 48 of Saskatchewan’s 83 WMZs.
Heads can be dropped off for testing at several locations in the province during the hunting season. Before dropping off the heads, hunters should pick up a CWD tracking number.