Chronic Wasting Disease has been set as a national priority for piloting a Wildlife Disease Action Plan by the Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers.

The Canadian Council of Wildlife Ministers recognize the growing danger wildlife diseases pose to wildlife, human health and the economy and have agreed to address the issue of chronic wasting disease by moving forward on developing an action plan for managing this disease and preventing its spread.

“Saskatchewan already has experience dealing with chronic wasting disease, which impacts our wild deer,” Environment Minister David Forbes said.

“Developing the action plan will focus national attention and hopefully lend the support of other agencies and provinces to the steps we in Saskatchewan are already taking to deal with the disease.”

This year Saskatchewan is moving away from testing animals from the entire province and is focusing on the areas where the disease has been found; reducing the deer population in the affected areas and looking to the future which will include sampling along the edges of the affected areas and continuous, intensive herd reduction.

“Wildlife does not recognize borders and any attempt to manage these issues must be dealt with in a co- ordinated manner,” Forbes said. “Governments recognize that all parts of the country are affected by invasive species and wildlife diseases and that they need to be dealt with on an urgent basis.”

The Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada establishes a comprehensive, co-ordinated and efficient approach to protecting Canada’s ecosystems, animals and plants. The Strategy is designed to address the threat invasive species pose to Canadian wildlife, forests, fisheries and other resource sectors.

Examples of invasive species include purple loosestrife, which is choking Canadian wetlands and the zebra mussel, which has had a significant economic impact on the Great Lakes. Both of these invaders are potential threats to water bodies in Saskatchewan.

The Ministers also reconfirmed their strong support for the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards and commended the Fur Institute of Canada for the progress in developing more humane trapping methods and systems to fulfill Canada’s treaty obligations.

“The fur industry is important in Saskatchewan and in Canada,” Forbes said.

“It provides employment for thousands of trappers, many of whom are aboriginal, who have been trained in safe, humane and effective trapping methods.”

The Canadian Council of Forestry Ministers reviewed progress on softwood lumber issues and the implementation with industry of a Canadian Forestry Innovation Council to stimulate and co-ordinate forestry research and development. The Ministers agreed to work together on a National Wildfire Management Strategy and to continue to strengthen sustainable forest management practices through a National Forestry Strategy.

Minister Forbes will host the Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers Meeting in Saskatoon next fall during the province’s Centennial.

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