REGINA — The provincial Environment Department is asking for the public’s help to control the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild mule deer.
Four cases of the disease have been confirmed in the province since fall 2000, with three being found in the Manito Sand Hills south of Lloydminster, and one at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, north of Swift Current, just last week.
Hunters are being asked to turn in deer heads for testing to determine what areas have been affected.
“We have it in two locations and we’re going to look elsewhere. . . . I’m optimistic that it’s not elsewhere but I guess we’ll have to wait and see,” said Kevin Omoth, provincial chronic wasting disease manager with the Environment Department.
“One of the frustrations with chronic wasting disease is the exact means of transmission is not known, but we are aware that it is contagious, they can pass it from animal to animal.”
There is no vaccine and the only way to test for the disease is to test the brain after the deer is dead.
Omoth said a lot of research has been done on the disease and health officials have not found any risk to humans.
“All the current science indicates that there’s no known risk to humans from this,” said Omoth.
“It’s primarily a disease of wild deer and so we operate on that premise. We maintain close contact with national and international health authorities and experts in the area.”
The department is issuing free control permits in the two herd reduction areas in an effort to remove more animals that may be affected, with head submission being mandatory.
Landowners can do their part by allowing hunters on their land, and the general public is encouraged to report any deer that may be sick.