No New Cases of CWD in the Wild

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No new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) have been found in the wild in a province-wide testing program. Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM), in co-operation with Saskatchewan hunters and landowners, has been collecting samples of deer and elk populations across the province for testing.

Last fall, Saskatchewan hunters collected more than 5,300 heads from wild elk, white-tailed and mule deer. They were turned in to SERM offices in all parts of the province. Analysis of brain tissue was done by the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre at the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine. SERM and Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food shared funding of the project.

All of the samples tested were negative. Approximately 23 per cent of the samples could not be tested, primarily because they were immature animals (fawns), had been frozen and thawed, or were otherwise damaged. A breakdown of provincial sample results is available on the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre's website at: ildlife.usask.ca/cwd2001. The website lists some samples as pending, as a small number of samples continue to be collected from road killed animals.

"Saskatchewan's hunters and landowners deserve a big thank you," Environment and Resource Management Minister Buckley Belanger said. "Their co-operation is an essential part of a quick and thorough response to the detection of CWD in wild deer."

The 2001 sampling program is a major component of SERM's response to the detection of chronic wasting disease in two wild mule deer in the Manito Sand Hills, south of Lloydminster. In addition to a province-wide surveillance program, hunter-based collection efforts were concentrated in the Manito Sand Hills and six other priority areas in the province.

Current science suggests no positive chronic wasting disease cases are required for a number of years before an area can be considered CWD-free. Environment and Resource Management will be continuing a chronic wasting disease Management Program in 2002 and subsequent years as needed to identify, control and work to eradicate the disease in Saskatchewan.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal disease of the nervous system of deer and elk. On-going research has found no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans or traditional livestock.