Hunting Forecast 2014: Waterfowl & CWD

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Waterfowling in the west

If you like to hunt ducks or geese in western Canada, rejoice. There has simply never been a better time to be a waterfowl hunter. This is especially good news considering the less positive prospects for deer hunting this fall. The upside of a snowy winter is that the spring runoff fills the prairie duck nesting ponds to the brim and ensures a good hatch of ducklings. This, on top of a couple of years of excellent duck production, is about as positive a forecast as could be. The numbers of pretty much every species are up, and those that are not increasing are stable. Geese are similarly abundant. Snow geese, for example, are booming and now arrive in southern Canada in record numbers, particularly in Saskatchewan and southwestern BC. Canada geese are found in every province, but are more likely to be hunted in Alberta through Manitoba, where close to 100,000 are harvested from each province annually. Hunting seasons have been lengthened to take advantage of this abundance of waterfowl. So, no matter where you are and what you plan to shoot, those who take their shotguns to the marsh or field this fall will have lots of opportunity and great sport.


Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal, degenerative disease of the brain, affecting a few moose and elk, some white-tailed deer, but most commonly mule deer. The infection was first detected in Saskatchewan in 2001 and spread to Alberta in 2005. The infection rate is very low, relative to the species populations, but the disease is likely here to stay.

For Manitoba, there are cases of CWD nearby, but so far that province appears to be free of the disease.

In Saskatchewan, unfortunately, monitoring for CWD was discontinued in 2013. The most recent data showed a number of new cases both inside and outside the core areas of infection: Lake Diefenbaker, Lloydminster/North Battleford and the Saskatchewan River valley east of Prince Albert.

In Alberta, the disease has been detected in the Red Deer/South Saskatchewan River and Battle River drainages, but the distribution expanded in 2013 to three new areas: the upper Red Deer River, the Milk River basin and south of Cyprus Hills.

In BC, so far the disease has not been detected, but monitoring continues.

All game managers want to contain the spread of this disease, and hunters in Manitoba and BC should be aware of the requirements for interprovincial transporting of the carcass of an animal that was killed in Saskatchewan or Alberta.

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