The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is doing its annual Chronic Wasting Disease monitoring program (CWD) through the fall and winter this year. Hunters can help by providing samples from the deer they shot this season.
CWD is a fatal and untreatable disease of the brain that affects all deer species, and also moose, elk and caribou. So far it has not appeared in any deer or related wildlife species in Ontario but it was discovered and contained in a deer farm close to the Ontario border, and it is a problem in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and in 25 American states.
The MNRF monitoring program for CWD runs from October to December and covers the Wildlife Management Units 94A, 94B, 93A to C, 92B and 92C in Southwestern Ontario and Unit 65 in Eastern Ontario.
MNRF staff will canvass these areas, visiting local hunters and hunting camps, asking permission to collect tissue samples from deer heads for analysis. The sampling will not prevent trophy mounting of the head.
All hunters who do not meet with MNRF technicians in the field are asked to remove the head of their kill and bring it as soon as possible to a ministry freezer depot for short-term storage until the sampling is done. Hunters must also provide information on where and when the deer was killed.
Symptoms of CWD include severe body weight loss, tremors, stumbling, and lack of coordination. Anyone seeing a deer that shows these symptoms should call 1-866-673-4781 or 1-800-667-1940 to report the situation.