Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative report on Chronic Wasting Disease testing in Saskatchewan has revealed significant infection rates among elk, moose, white-tailed deer, and mule deer.

According to The Hill, CWD has been found in 24 states, with most of the activity centered around the American West, near the Rocky Mountains. They are also found in the Upper Midwest – states like Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Since the disease was first found in Colorado in 1967, significant spread of “zombie deer disease” infections have been noted.

While CWD has not yet been reported in a human (according to the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.), the center does warn that the disease could be spread to humans by eating infected meat. Affected animals may or may not show symptoms (such as emaciation from forgetting to eat, excessive drooling, and stumbling). There are no vaccines or cures, and CWD is fatal.

NBC News reported that many experts are worried that the disease could transfer to humans through consumption of the meat itself. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told state lawmakers recently that he’s concerned that might happen soon: “It is probable that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption with contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” he told the Minnesota legislature last week. “It’s possible the number of human cases will be substantial, and will not be isolated events.”

In Saskatchewan, the following counts are current as of this writing (according to CWHC & zones not mentioned reported no positives):

Elk: 0 Positive, 112 negative, 22 inconclusive, 134 total samples. 0% infected.

Moose: 2 positive, 89 negative, 17 inconclusive, 108 total samples. 1.9% infected.

Mule Deer: 237 positive, 590 negative, 8 inconclusive, 835 total samples. 28.4% infected!

White-Tailed Deer: 60 positive, 919 negative, 14 inconclusive, 993 total samples. 6% infected.

Hunting zones of particular note (remember the percentages can be skewed if the absolute # harvested was small versus the CWD infection rate):

Zone 4 (23.5% infection rate of mule deer)

Zone 5 (18.2% mule deer)

Zone 8 (25% white-tailed deer)

Zone 9 (35.9% mule deer)

Zone 10 (44.1% of mule deer)

Zone 11 (70.6% of mule deer)

Zone 13 (25% moose, 40.7% mule deer, 32.1% white-tailed deer)

Zone 14 (47.3% mule deer, 29.3% white-tailed deer)

Zone 19 (27.8% of mule deer)

Zone 23 (53.3% of mule deer)

Zone 24 (51.9% mule deer)

Zone 25 (51.7% mule deer)

Zone 26 (37.5% mule deer)

Zone 29 (28.6% mule deer)

Zone 30 (18.8% mule deer)

Zone 35 (100% of mule deer)

Zone 38 (20% of mule deer)

Zone 40 (50% of mule deer)

Zone 45 (23.1% mule deer)

Zone 46 (50% mule deer, 33.3% white-tailed deer)

Zone 53 (50% of mule deer)

Regina WMZ (22.2% of mule deer)

Saskatoon WMZ (30% of mule deer).

Grand total infection rate is 299 cases positive, 1710 negative, 61 inconclusive, 2070 total. Total infection rate across all species and game types in Saskatchewan for the season is 14.4%, but with obvious strong regional disparities.

In neighbouring North Dakota, three counties report CWD: Grant County, Divide County, and Sioux County. CWD has also been reported in reindeer and moose in Norway and Finland, and a small number of imported cases were reported in South Korea.

Saskatchewan’s government continues to support the CWD monitoring regime in-place, and hunters participate in surveys after harvesting kills.

RGSL complies with all directives from the CFO, RCMP, and government/support agencies in order to help keep Saskatchewan safe!

RGSL runs Non-Restricted and Restricted gun license safety courses in Regina and Saskatoon. Check out the list of upcoming classes here. 

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