The Provincial government announced on Thursday morning an additional $880,000 will be used to enhance testing and staff capacity to further monitor and prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), an incurable and fatal disease that affects members of the deer family (cervids) including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, and caribou.

“Chronic wasting disease is a significant threat to the health of Manitoba’s wildlife and our collective efforts in conservation, and we continue to take action to contain and eradicate its spread within the province,” said Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt at Thursday afternoon's announcement.

“This additional investment will expand testing capacity, with a goal of reducing processing times for the 2023 hunting season. Testing more animals more often is critical to detecting the disease early and developing effective strategies to protect wildlife populations for the future,” explained Nesbitt. 

Animals infected with CWD may appear healthy until the later stages of the disease, this being the challenge for seasonal hunters when harvesting deer.  If the disease spreads and becomes endemic to Manitoba, there is a serious risk that CWD will threaten the health of all cervid populations in Manitoba beyond mule deer populations.

A total of 22 positive cases have been identified since CWD was first detected in Manitoba in early November of 2021. Cases were identified from mandatory biological sampling submissions of hunter-harvested animals as well as animals harvested by the Province as part of ongoing CWD management efforts.

It is anticipated that the number of cases will rise as further testing is completed.

Executive Director of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation, and Policy Advisor with the MWF, Chris Heald, says the disease affects the central nervous system and is highly contagious within the cervid population.  "Research has shown that in areas where CWD has been established life-expectancy and reproduction is affected, leading to significant population decline."

Heald adds the debilitating protein in CWD is shed through bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, feces, blood, and placenta and can remain infectious for years outside of the body.

It's important to note, CWD is not known as a human health risk, but Health Canada has recommended that meat from a CWD-infected animal not be consumed. It is mandatory for licensed hunters in areas where CWD is a concern to have harvested animals tested, practice safe carcass-handling protocols, and avoid consumption of any animal that has tested positive for CWD.

Sample results from harvested animals will be posted, once available, at

Thus far CWD has been found primarily in male mule deer, and Manitoba has a rather small mule deer population. "We do see isolated little pockets of mule deer," shares Heald, "but the main conglomerate of mule deer seems to be along that Manitoba-Saskatchewan border.  The first case was in Dropmore so we're still seeing some cases there, and then in the very southwest corner closer to Melita; not too far coming east yet, staying pretty close to that Saskatchewan border."

The 2022-23 hunting season saw an increase in biological sampling submissions – up to 6,000, compared to an average of 1,000 prior to December of 2021. 

Chris Heald adds the MWF is currently advocating for a complete ban on all baiting for all hunters across the province.  "Manitoba doesn't allow baiting for licensed hunters, however, rights-based hunters don't have that restriction, and people in towns and urban areas are feeding animals all the time.  We want to see all feeding of all wild animals stopped. Wild animals are wild and once you start feeding them it creates problems."

Hunters with questions or concerns about an animal that has been harvested can email or call 1-204-638-4570.  Sickly animals showing signs of strange behavior should be reported to your local conservation office or call the TIPS line at 204-985-8477 or Toll-free at 1-877-985-8477.

For more information, visit

You can also visit the Manitoba Wildlife Federation website at:  Chronic Wasting Disease - Manitoba Wildlife Federation (