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Hunters' help needed to track CWD

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The Ontario government is seeking the help of hunters as it takes steps to ensure sustainable wildlife populations and continued hunting opportunities for future generations.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is an 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 and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) aims to keep it that way.

The ministry is currently conducting the annual CWD surveillance program, which helps to detect the disease and minimize the risk of it entering the province.

During the firearms hunt, ministry staff will canvas surveillance areas and visit local hunt camps.

Hunters can help by giving staff permission to remove a small amount of tissue from the deer head for analysis.

Alternatively, bow and firearm hunters are encouraged to take the head of their harvested deer to a ministry freezer depot.

Hunters submitting a deer head are asked to provide their contact information, the date, and the general location of the harvest.

Sampling doesn't prevent hunters from consuming the meat or having the head mounted.

The first 500 hunters who provide a tissue sample from a deer taken in the surveillance area will be given a 2019 participation crest.

Deer must be over one year of age for testing.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be doing surveillance in Northwestern Ontario in Wildlife Management Units 8, 9A, 9B, 10 and 13 and in Eastern Ontario in Wildlife Management Units 65 and 64B.

Drop-off locations will be open until mid- December.

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.

Hunter submissions of samples from harvested yearlings, does, and bucks are critical in Ontario's efforts to detect CWD and help minimize the risk of it entering the province.

Hunters can find locations to drop off samples, see their test results within 2-8 weeks and learn more about symptoms on Ontario.ca/chronic-wasting-disease.

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