Saskatchewan Environment Targets Key Wildlife Areas for CWD Testing | The Canadian News

The Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment says animals collected from five key wildlife management zones are of particular interest as biologists study chronic wasting disease (CWD).

CWD is an infectious disease of the central nervous system in cervids, including caribou, deer, elk, and elk, and is fatal to infected deer.

The province said animals in zones 2W, 9, 10, 35 and 37 will help provide more information on the prevalence and spread of CWD.

The Environment Ministry said it is also interested in samples from zones 50 and 55 to assess CWD in the boreal transition region and the risk of transmission to cervids, including threatened boreal caribou.

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Environment Minister Warren Kaeding said CWD is a serious problem in the province and that hunters play a vital role in detection and surveillance.

“Last year, almost 3,000 heads were tested,” Kaeding said.

“This level of sampling would not be possible without the dedication of the hunting community and is critical to the success of the CWD surveillance program.”

Hunters are asked to submit the heads of deer, elk, and elk captured during the 2021 hunting season for testing.

The province expects hunters to submit more elk heads this year after CWD was found in five elk in 2020.

Officials said this will allow them to better understand the disease in elk, especially in areas where CWD occurs in the deer population.

A CWD tracking number is required before leaving heads for testing. Those can be obtained from the CWD online tracking system.

The website also has a list of places where heads can be left for testing.

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Authorities said that while there have been no documented cases of CWD in humans, people are advised to refrain from eating or distributing meat that has tested positive for the disease.

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Carcasses and meat can be disposed of in a ministry approved landfill.

Processed meat can be packaged in two bags, and in limited quantities they are disposed of with household waste. Landfill owners should be contacted before using this disposal method, as not all landfills accept animal carcasses.

CWD has been detected in 56 of the 83 wildlife management zones in Saskatchewan.

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