September 09, 2020

Key Wildlife Management Zones Targeted for CWD Testing

The Ministry of Environment is once again encouraging hunters to submit the heads of deer, moose and elk harvested this hunting season for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing.  CWD is a fatal, infectious central nervous system disease in cervids that has no known cure.

“Last year, hunters submitted more than 3,300 heads for CWD testing,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said.  “Their continued support of the CWD surveillance program is invaluable in helping us understand how this disease spreads, and for evaluating potential population impacts.  This in turn will guide the province in developing disease management plans.”

In particular, hunters in wildlife management zones (WMZs) 2W, 9, 10, 35 and 37 are asked to submit mule deer and white-tailed deer heads for testing.  However, testing is available for all cervid species harvested in any WMZ in the province.

The ministry is hoping to collect at least 300 samples in each of these targeted zones to obtain additional information about the prevalence and spread of the disease in certain areas of the province.

Submissions from WMZs 50 and 55 are also requested to help evaluate the CWD risk in woodland caribou habitat in the boreal forest.

One way that hunters can help reduce the spread of CWD to new areas of the province is by properly disposing of animal carcass waste.  In areas where CWD has been detected, hunters are encouraged when possible to quarter the animal in the field instead of transporting it from the area where it was taken.

In Saskatchewan, CWD was first discovered in provincial game farm animals in 1996.  It transitioned to wild mule deer in 2000, and is now found in deer, elk and moose in 55 of Saskatchewan’s 83 WMZs.

“With the help of hunters, the ministry has been monitoring the spread and intensity of CWD for more than 20 years,” Duncan said.  “We appreciate their support and want to continue working together to better understand and address this wildlife disease.”

Although no human case of CWD has ever been identified, the province recommends that hunters avoid eating the meat until they receive their test results.  In addition, hunters are strongly urged not to eat, or distribute for human consumption, the meat or other parts from animals that are found to be CWD-positive.

Prior to dropping off heads, you must obtain your CWD Tracking Number from the cwdsk.ca website and keep that number with you.  Heads can be submitted for testing at a number of designated drop-off locations across the province throughout the hunting season.  The testing is free of charge.

For a complete list of drop-off sites and information on how to submit a sample for testing, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/cwd.