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.

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