Government of Saskatchewan grant supports USask chronic wasting disease research

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan announces $90,000 for university research projects tracking disease transmission in caribou'
Saskatchewan announces $90,000 for university research projects tracking disease transmission in caribou
WATCH: University of Saskatchewan Associate Professor Dr. Phil McLoughlin with the Department of Biology spoke on Monday following the province's announcement to support studies concerning chronic wasting disease. The province will provide $90,000 towards the program which uses state-of-the-art radio collars and trail cameras. – Apr 3, 2023

The Government of Saskatchewan announced a $90,000 grant at the University of Saskatchewan looking to support research studying the spread of chronic wasting disease and meningeal worm in woodland caribou.

“Woodland caribou are species at risk and the spread of CWD into the boreal forest is certainly a significant threat to their survival,” said Saskatchewan environment minister Dana Skoropad.

The government adds the results of the research will provide the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment with valuable insights to develop science based policies to prioritize the conservation of woodland caribou and their habitat.

“Chronic wasting disease, if it were to transfer into caribou, this would be … a national emergency,” said Dr. Phil McLoughlin. associate professor in the College of Arts and Science.

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“We know these species — caribou, moose — which are also susceptible to this disease are very important to sustaining food security and food sovereignty in the north,” added McLoughlin.

The grant will allow the university to hire a Ph.D student focused specifically on the problem of gauging the transmission risks to caribou. The work uses radio collars and trail cameras to understand animal movements and help develop a comprehensive transmission model.

“The goal of our research is to provide practical tools, knowledge, and options, and build the capacity to conserve the Boreal Plains ecosystem while safeguarding the core socio-ecological needs and values of residents,” said McLoughlin.

The grant builds on previous funding from the fish and wildlife development fund for a larger project also led by Dr. McLoughlin involving moose populations and the spread of meningeal worm in Saskatchewan.

The government adds it is committed to supporting vital research like this and recognizes the importance of this work to the conservation of woodland caribou, and the security of Indigenous people.

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