The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment is encouraging hunters across the province, including those in the Lloydminster, to help in the fight against Chronic Wasting Disease.
CWD is a fatal disease that can affect caribou, deer, elk and moose with no known cure. It attacks the central nervous system of these animals and can be spread to other animals as well. Information from CWD testing helps the Ministry of Environment understand how it spreads, potential impacts on animal populations and develop disease management.
CWD has previously been found in deer, elk and moose in 55 of Saskatchewan’s 83 Wildlife Management Zones, including the Lloydminster area since testing began. 3,330 heads were tested last year, according to Environment Minister Dustin Duncan.
Hunters can help in this process by handing in the heads of their bagged animals to a testing site. This is voluntary but especially encouraged for people hunting in the Meadow Lake, Yorkton, west of Nipawin to Prince Albert and some areas closer to the American Border. The Ministry of Environment hopes to collect at least 300 samples from this area.
Testing is available across the province, with the closest testing site to the Lloydminster area being in North Battleford. Prior to dropping off the head, hunters must get a tracking number online which they will need to keep in order to retrieve the heads. Testing can be completed any time during the hunting season and is free of charge.
In the meantime, hunters can take proactive steps to prevent the spread of CWD. They can do this by properly disposing of animal waste after butchering it and quartering the animal in the field it was killed if CWD has been found in the area, instead of taking it to another area.
While CWD has not been found in humans, the province recommends not eating the meat of an animal being tested for CWD until a negative diagnosis has been confirmed. Hunters are told not to eat or give away meat of these animals if they have been confirmed CWD-positive.
Alberta has made CWD testing mandatory for some areas, including the Lloydminster area south to Oyen, and as far west as Consort.