The province is asking hunters to submit deer samples as part of continuing chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance efforts.
The fatal, untreatable brain disease that affects members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, elk, moose, and caribou, has not been found in Ontario. It has, however, been detected in all five US states bordering the province, as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Québec.
Three regions targeted
The Ministry of Natural Resources will target three regions from October until the end of December as part of monitoring efforts, officials stated in an Oct. 3 bulletin. They include eastern Ontario in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 48, 55B, 58, and 59, southern Ontario in WMUs 72A, 72B, 73, 77A, 77B, 77C, 78A, 78B, 78C, 78D, and 78E, and Southwestern Ontario in WMUs 90B, 91A, 91B, 92A, 92B, 92C, 92D, 93A, 93B, and 93C.
During the fall hunt, wildlife research technicians will canvass these areas and ask hunters’ permission to remove a small amount of tissue from the deer head for analysis. Sampling will not prevent hunters from consuming the meat or having the head mounted, officials stated.
All bow and firearm hunters within the surveillance areas can take the head of their deer (preferably within a few days of being harvested) to an MNRF freezer depot. Depots will be open from October until the end of December.
Hunters submitting a deer head are asked to provide their contact information, the date, and general location of harvest. Fawns under one year of age will not be tested as this disease is unlikely to be detected in young animals, officials stated.
How to report
The first 500 hunters in each zone who provide a tissue sample from a deer taken in the surveillance area will be given a participation crest.
If you see a deer, elk or moose showing signs of CWD, such as severe loss of body weight, tremors, stumbling, or lack of coordination, 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.
In 2021, MNRF collected 549 samples from hunters during regular surveillance operations. The ministry has tested more than 14,200 hunter-harvested whitetails since 2002.