Saskatchewan's CWD Control Program

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Saskatchewan's 2007 Chronic Wasting Disease Control Program is in place and it has a few changes from last year.

In the seven wildlife management zones where CWD has previously been found, the herd reduction areas have been expanded to cover the entire zone. The expanded areas include wildlife management zones 24, 43, 46, 47, 50 (including the Fort a la Corne Wildlife Management Unit) and 68 South. Two exceptions to the zone-wide approach are the established herd reduction areas east of Kindersley near D'Arcy and along the South Saskatchewan River near Saskatchewan Landing.

Hunters are being asked to submit samples from animals they shoot for testing. The heads of all deer turned in from anywhere in the province will be tested free of charge. Fawns will not be tested, as they are not old enough for the tests to be conclusive.

"It is important to continue the head testing program," says Marv Hlady, Manager of Business Management, Saskatchewan Environment. "Testing provides us with important information including where the disease is located, how many deer are infected and whether CWD is spreading into new areas. This information helps us to develop a program that can help reduce the spread of the disease."

People hunting in the herd reduction areas will be able to use both CWD permits and Big Game Management Licences. The CWD permits are only available to Saskatchewan residents and are valid for both mule deer and white-tailed deer.

Two types of CWD permits are available. Antlerless CWD Permits will be valid for antlerless deer only. The 3 Point or Less CWD Permits are valid for antlerless deer or bucks with 3 or fewer points on one antler.

Hunters will initially be issued one Antlerless CWD Permit and one 3 Point or Less CWD Permit. When the hunter has submitted the heads from the animals taken under the Herd Reduction Permits, he or she will then be eligible to buy a Big Game Management Licence. Hunters may obtain a maximum of two Big Game Management Licences. Each Big Game Management Licence costs $19.81 and is valid for any deer. Hunters must also hold a 2007 Wildlife Habitat Certificate.

"By taking this approach we are accomplishing two things," says Environment's Hlady. "We are encouraging hunters to shoot does and young deer, which is an effective way to both reduce herd size and get a significant number of heads to test for CWD. Once hunters fill their CWD permits they can then get an inexpensive licence to hunt bucks. So we get more heads to test and the hunter gets a chance at a trophy buck."

Saskatchewan Environment is also co-operating with the University of Saskatchewan on a deer movement study along the South Saskatchewan River near Saskatchewan Landing. In this area, deer are equipped with radio collars and/or ear tags. Hunters are asked not to shoot deer that have collars on them.

Since 1997 Saskatchewan Environment has tested approximately 32,000 samples taken from wild deer and found 150 cases of Chronic Wasting Disease.

There is no scientific evidence to indicate that CWD has ever infected humans. Research in the area is growing and there is much more to learn about this disease. As a precautionary measure, Saskatchewan Health suggests that all animals taken from areas where CWD has been found be tested for CWD. In addition, consumption of meat from an animal confirmed positive for CWD or any other disease is not recommended.

Hunters are reminded to get permission from the landowner or lessee to hunt or retrieve game on their land. In herd reduction areas 14 and 25 and in Wildlife Management Zones 24 the holder of a CWD permit or Big Game Management Licence cannot, without the consent of the landowner or occupant, use any vehicle for hunting, except on a road or trail.

Hunters are advised to check with their local Saskatchewan Environment office or conservation officer for details.

More information about CWD and the 2007 Control Program can be found on the Saskatchewan Environment website http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca.