The Ontario government is asking hunters to submit deer tissue samples as part of its Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance program to allow for early detection of the disease.
Hunter samples from harvested deer are critical in Ontario’s efforts to detect CWD – a fatal, untreatable brain disease affecting members of the deer family including white-tailed deer, elk, moose and caribou. It has not been found in Ontario wildlife but has been detected in all five U.S. states bordering Ontario, as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Québec.
In 2023, the ministry will be doing surveillance in three target regions throughout the hunting season:
- Northwestern Ontario in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs): 9B, 10 and 11A
- Central Ontario in WMUs: 50, 51, 54, 55A and 57
- Southwestern Ontario in WMUs: 90B, 91A, 91B, 92A, 92B, 92C, 92D, 93A, 93B and 93C
During the fall hunt, wildlife research technicians will be canvassing these surveillance areas and asking 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.
All hunters within the surveillance areas are encouraged to 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 to mid-December.
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, please report it to one of the following:
- the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-866-673-4781
- the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Natural Resources Information and Support Centre at 1-800-667-1940
To learn more about how you can help keep CWD out of Ontario, please visit ontario.ca/cwd.
- The first 500 hunters in each zone who provide a sample from a deer taken in the surveillance area will be given a participation crest.
- Hunters submitting a deer head are asked to provide their contact information, the date and general location of harvest. Hunters can also see their test results at ontario.ca/cwd
- Deer under one year of age will not be tested as this disease is less likely to be detected in young animals.
- Since CWD surveillance started in 2002, the ministry has tested over 14,800 hunter-harvested white-tailed deer in Ontario. CWD has not been detected in any of the samples tested.
- Ontario released its CWD Prevention and Response Plan in December 2019 to ensure the province continues to have the right measures in place to minimize the risk of the disease entering or spreading within the province.