Testing for CWD will be going on again this fall hunting season (2020) in WMU 65 as well as several WMU’s in Southern Ontario. We would like to share an email from
Science Operations Supervisor
Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) will be conducting its annual chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance program through the fall and winter of 2020. CWD is a fatal, untreatable brain disease that affects members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, elk, moose and caribou. It has not been found in wildlife in Ontario, but it is present in 26 U.S. states, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 2018, for the first time, it was also confirmed in Québec in a captive red deer farm, close to the Ontario border.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is committed to taking measures to minimize the potential introduction of CWD into Ontario and to keeping hunters informed. Surveillance allows us to monitor wildlife populations and assess their health ensuring that we will be prepared if CWD is discovered in Ontario.
Through MNRF’s annual risk model assessment process, we have identified two target regions for comprehensive CWD surveillance in 2020:
• Eastern Ontario in Wildlife Management Unit: 65, from October to December 2020.
• Southwestern Ontario in Wildlife Management Units: 94A, 94B, 93A, 93B, 93C, 92B, and 92C, from October to December 2020 (map attached).
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, additional health and safety measures will be put into place using the best available information from Public Health Ontario to deliver this program safely and minimize risk to staff and the public. The ministry will continue to follow public health guidelines. Any updates will be available online at Ontario.ca/cwd.
Most sampling will be done during the firearms hunt. At this time roving crews of ministry wildlife research technicians will canvas the surveillance areas and visit local hunters and hunt camps. The research technicians will ask the hunter’s permission to remove a small amount of tissue from the head area of the deer for analysis. Sampling will not prevent hunters from consuming the meat or having the head mounted.
Bow hunters and firearms hunters missed by the roving crews are invited to take the head of their yearling or older deer to an MNRF freezer depot. If you cannot drop off your sample within 48 hours, you can freeze the head and bring it to the drop off depot frozen. Fawns are not sampled as it is not possible to detected CWD animals less than 12 months old. Drop-off depots will be open from October to December in both surveillance zones.
Hunters submitting deer heads are asked to provide their name and phone number, the date and general location of harvest. Each hunter who provides a tissue sample from a deer taken in the surveillance area, along with the required information, will be given a participation crest.
Samples provided by hunters are critical in Ontario’s efforts to detect CWD. Locations where hunters can drop off samples, safety precautions when field dressing, and test results can be found on the Ministry’s CWD website at Ontario.ca/cwd.
If you see a wild animal showing signs of CWD, report it to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-866-673-4781 or Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Natural Resources Information and Support Centre at 1-800-667-1940.
If you have questions about CWD and the surveillance program, or would like the opportunity to discuss CWD further, please contact me at 705-313-2043 or via email at Larissa.Nituch@ontario.ca. For more information about CWD in Ontario, please visit Ontario.ca/cwd.