Hunters in the area should be on the lookout as the rising concern of chronic wasting disease in wildlife increases.
Chronic Wasting Disease has most recently been discovered in a three-and-a-half-year-old bull elk south of Melfort. It is important for hunters to send in their animal heads to the Ministry of Environment upon spotting the disease, due to the fact that the disease is NOT safe for human consumption.
"In turn, it would not be unexpected to find some animals affected in Humboldt and area in the near future," said Iga Stasiak, Wildlife Health Specialist with the Government of Saskatchewan. She also noted there have not been a lot of samples sent in from the Humboldt area which is important. When there is a positive case, the Government of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment needs to decipher whether it is 1 in 100 cases or 1 in 1000 cases. In order to know this, they need hunters to submit heads for testing when spotting the disease.
Chronic Wasting Disease is a non-treatable, dementia-like disease that develops slowly over time in animals. It typically affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It forms holes in the animal's brain and slowly destroys them from the inside out. To note, there have been thousands of cases in Saskatchewan in the past decade.
"There are a number of disease hotspots along the South Saskatchewan River Valley, in the Ford-Nipawin area, and in the Lloydminster area" Stasiak said. "To date, we have the disease in 45 of the province's wildlife management zones. This, in turn, means two-thirds of Saskatchewan is affected by this." She encourages all hunters to be on the lookout in all game hunted this year, and to please send in animal heads for testing when spotting the disease.