Saskatchewan’s environment ministry is encouraging hunters to donate the heads of the deer, elk and moose they shoot across the province for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing.
Out of 800 samples taken from 40 wildlife zones last fall, the ministry’s tested 98 animals positive for the deadly disease, which attacks the nervous system.
Katherine Mehl, the ministry’s manager of landscape and habitat assessment, said it’s impossible to tell if the game has CWD when it’s first killed.
“(The animals) look normal to our eyes because this disease is inside. They’re still shedding the prions into the environment,” she said. “We’ve had some very healthy looking animals tested positive for CWD because it’s in the early stages, and it’s in the meat as well.”
Mehl added cooking the wild meat won’t make a difference.
“It has to do with the misfolding in the proteins, so it’s not something you can expect to kill by cooking or any other means.”
While no humans have tested positive for CWD, people are still encouraged to contact the ministry of environment to get their meat tested ahead of eating it.
In doing so, Mehl said the samples will also go towards ongoing research projects at the University of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to determine future CWD management options.