Due to the regular amending of regulations in Saskatchewan, it is recommended that before hunting you check these CWD regulations, as well as those of any other states or provinces in which you will be hunting or traveling through while transporting cervid carcasses. The contact information for Saskatchewan can be seen below:
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Animals found dead in early-April near Nipawin in province’s east-central region
The first-ever cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild elk have been discovered in Saskatchewan, but the provincial government hasn’t been very public about it.
The animals were found dead west of Nipawin in early April, close to Fort a la Corne in the province’s east-central region. An “announcement” was posted May 6 on the Ministry of Environment website but not on the government’s main page or distributed as a news release.
“We want to understand the significance of it before we take any radical action,” said Rick Ashton, director of resource allocation at the fish and wildlife branch of the ministry. “They were found in an area highly infected with CWD in white-tailed deer. It’s just another species. It’s not a significant event at this point.”
“These are the first cases in wild elk. It’s out there now, so how long before it moves into even more species,” said SWF executive director Darrell Crabbe. “We know moose can contract the disease and there’s a good possibility from there it could jump to caribou.”
The elk were both female cows, aged 11/2 and 31/2 years. The younger one was found dead in a pea field near a road and exhibited severe trauma consistent with being hit by a vehicle. The older animal was found in a field and appeared to have been dead for three or four days, according to the government. Only the head of the latter was submitted, so confirmation of the cause of death was not possible.
Although both animals tested positive for CWD, it was believed they were in the early stages of the disease and did not die from that, the announcement states. The disease is a form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, attacking the brains and nervous systems of cervid (deer family) animals.
The Ministry of Environment is planning to meet with a CWD committee – comprised of wildlife groups, hunter organizations, stock growers, rural municipalities and First Nations – to discuss the findings and develop a management plan.
The SWF doesn’t have a lot of faith in the government management policies. An inventory program intended to monitor the number of animals in game farms is “a joke,” said Crabbe, who blames game farms for CWD in the province by setting less valuable animals in the wild.
Hunt farms bring in a lot of money for farmers and ranchers who have suffered from reduced incomes during the years. Wealthy hunters from the United States will pay thousands of dollars for a day’s hunt, and they want to return with something to show for it, said Crabbe, who is skeptical the diseased Saskatchewan elk were wild animals.
“I find it very coincidental, too coincidental, to find two cows, so close in age, both testing positive in that area,” he said, noting cows are less valuable than elk bulls to hunters.
The ministry’s wildlife disease specialist, Dr. Yeen Ten Hwang, said there is no evidence the elk were originally domestic.
“There were no ear tags and the pathologist saw no hair loss or ripping where the tags might have been,” she said.
Asked why the findings weren’t publicized to the media, she said, “I don’t know. We’ve had a lot of CWD in the deer and it was only a matter of time until it was transferred to elk. We sort of expected it.”
The first cases of CWD in Canada were traced to a Lloydminster-area farm that imported animals from South Dakota in the 1980s. How CWD is transmitted is not yet completely understood, though it is believed to occur if animals are in close proximity, likely through the saliva, feces or urine.
An outbreak of CWD in the 1990s devastated the herds and livelihoods of many producers. There is no way to confirm the presence of the disease until the brain can be examined. As a result, tens of thousands of animals have been killed to contain the spread of CWD. The vast majority have tested negative.
“We certainly weren’t trying to keep it quiet,” Ashton said of the dead elk. “We let the important folks who needed to know about it know. We did suppress it until we could tell our key and critical stakeholders because if something like this gets out, it will spread fast and it is important to carefully manage our communications. Then we put it on the website, which is very public.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed animals in a white-tail deer herd and two elk hunt operations in Saskatchewan have tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
As a result, the CFIA has quarantined a white-tail deer herd and an elk hunt operation in the Prince Albert area along with an elk hunt farm in the Moose Jaw area, an agency spokeswoman said.
The most recent case was confirmed Tuesday in a farmed elk herd in the Prince Albert area. However, the agency spokeswoman said the quarantine would likely have been imposed while awaiting the test results. Saskatchewan’s first suspected case of CWD this year was diagnosed earlier in the month.
Chronic wasting disease is a progressive, fatal disease of the nervous system of cervids such as mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk. Black-tail deer and moose have also become infected naturally, according to the CFIA Web site. The CFIA is also tracing the movement of animals on and off the premises, the agency spokeswoman said, noting at this time no herds have been culled.
The findings of CWD is not unexpected, she said. There have been periodic findings of the disease in the deer and elk population in the province over the last 10 years.
A white tailed deer found near Nipawin, has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer and elk.
It causes a degeneration of the brains of infected animals and is in the same family of prion diseases as BSE.
“We don’t want to put out an alarm situation. This is one case out there,” said Marvin Hlady, a wildlife specialist with Sask Environment.
This is the first deer diagnosed with CWD in northeast Saskatchewan. Since a wild animal was found with CWD in 2000, there have been 68 reported cases in Saskatchewan, with the majority of cases in Sask Landing Park, north of Swift Current.
Hlady emphasized that deer meat is still safe to eat. “Right now there is no evidence that people can get CWD.”
On May 19 Albert Swan discovered a dead deer inside a shed on his property – five miles south of Love adjacent to the White Fox River.
On May 20, conservation officers from the Sask Environment office in Nipawin picked up the animal and sent it to the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at the University of Saskatchewan for testing. The results came back positive and in late June, a Canadian Food Inspection Agency lab in Ontario confirmed the diagnosis.
“We will be using this information… as part of our CWD management program,” Hlady said.
Scientists are not certain how CWD is spread, but it may be passed on via feces, saliva or urine. It is also believed that a high deer population increases the risk of a CWD epidemic.
“A recognized way to reduce spread is to reduce deer numbers,” Hlady said.
Sask Environment has no plans for a deer cull in the northeast, but they will hold a public meeting in the region.
“We have started making preparations to answer any questions in a public forum,” said Rick Douslin, Compliance manager at the Nipawin office for Sask Environment. Douslin expects the public meeting will be in early August.
Dead deer discovered near Love tests positive for brain-wasting disease A new case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) has emerged in an area previously untouched by it, Saskatchewan Environment has confirmed.
A white-tailed deer, found dead for no apparent reason about eight kilometres south of Love, tested positive after it was submitted as part of the province’s regular testing program, said Saskatchewan Environment wildlife specialist Merv Hlady.
It’s the first confirmed case of the brain-wasting disease for the area, located about an hour east of Prince Albert.
“When we’re developing our strategy for this fall, which is not finalized yet, we’re going to have to definitely consider the new positive case in the Love area,” Hlady said. “It’s a new area, so it will create some additional challenges, but we’ll work with it and we’ll involve local people in those discussions.”
Hlady said it’s still too early to tell how they’ll address the new situation.
Another deer, located in the Swift Current creek area that has already seen a number of CWD cases, also tested positive at the same time, Hlady said.
Finding the disease in a wild population presents a “more difficult” situation than finding one in a domestic herd, he said, because wild animals have more mobility to spread the disease.
“We’ve had CWD in wild deer for a number of years now, and we have programs trying to address and control the spread of the disease,” he said. “This just (adds) another layer basically to our management strategy.”
Hlady said the province has seen 68 wild animal cases since 2000, 34 of them confirmed since October 2004. Animals in known problem areas are intensely tested for the disease, he said.
Reducing deer populations is a regular way of controlling CWD, Hlady said, and it’s not something they’re ruling out with the new case.
“It’ll be considered, definitely. The sooner you can act upon a positive, the more chance you have of actually being successful,” he said.
“I think with CWD, what we’re trying to do is manage it, and hope that with the offset of new information, we can have a better chance at beating this thing.”
The disease exists mainly in three areas of Saskatchewan: the South Saskatchewan River corridor near Swift Current, a portion of the Bronson Forest and the Manitou Sand Hills.
Although there are suspicions the disease is spread through saliva and bodily fluids, the science is not conclusive.
SASKATOON – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that an elk from a farm in the Battlefords area had Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Agency spokesperson Sandra Stevens says three farms are now under a quarantine order.
“We want to make sure we have all the animals that would have had any exposure to that animal that has tested positive, so we’ll start with that to identify all possible contacts,” says Stevens.
“Based on that, we’ll decide which animals we will destroy and test.”
The quarantine order marks 44 Saskatchewan elk farms that have been affected by CWD.
More than 1,000 animals have been destroyed since the disease was discovered in Saskatchewan eight years ago, and it devastated the industry.
But Blaine Weber of the Saskatchewan Elk Breeders Association says this recent discovery is actually good news because is shows the surveillance system is working.
Weber says the Canadian system of examining every animal slaughtered for CWD has made elk meat one of the safest meats. He says the controls have allowed producers to resume exporting elk antler velvet, and that has helped their industry survive.