The province is doing all they can to help prevent Chronic Wasting Disease. Free testing is one way that they are tracking the disease through the region. "We do have an online tracking system. When a hunter submits a sample, they are given a unique tracking number, which they can use to go online to get their testing results". Explained Iga Sasiak. "As soon as the results are in they are posted and available on the site".
Hunters are encouraged to send in their heads to be analysed. "We have many samples that have been coming in this last month. We've received a lot more moose and elk this year, then we have in previous years which is good". Traditionally hunters have submitted a lot of deer with over 800 samples submitted last year. Iga Continues, "we've had several hundred submitted so far this year. With a lot more expected to be coming through the months of November, December and January".
"We have thirty-seven positive samples already this year from across the province. Last year there were several cases in the southeast region". Recently there was a case just outside of Melfort. "Mostly we find CWD in Mule Deer and White-tailed deer, less so in Elk and one positive case in moose. However, it's also related to what hunters are submitting. If we don't get many samples of certain animals, the numbers can be lower, which is why we are encouraging hunters to send in samples of all species". CWD is most prevalent in Mule deer and White-tail deer.
There are a few things hunters can do to help mitigate the spread of the disease. "Hunters can play an important role in preventing spread by doing a few different things; one is avoiding long-distance transportation of their carcasses If you can field dress, quarter and de-bone the animal in the field, and leave the carcass remains in place, it`s always the best thing to do". Iga noted, "Take only what you need and make sure the carcasses are correctly wrapped in plastic or a tarp with the remains disposed of in an approved landfill.
Furthermore, Iga explained "The second thing hunters can do is avoid baiting and feeding or putting out mineral licks. These things are very common and have been used extensively throughout the province but unfortunately, they cause animals to congregate which causes increased transmission, so we ask hunters to avoid those practices to decrease spreading".
There have been no documented cases of Chronic Wasting Disease in humans in Saskatchewan.