Dr. Phil McLoughlin, USask researcher
Dr. Phil McLoughlin (PhD), associate professor in the College of Arts and Science. Photo: Tamara McLoughlin.

Saskatchewan invests in chronic wasting disease research at USask

The Government of Saskatchewan announced a $90,000 grant to support innovative University of Saskatchewan (USask) research that studies the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and meningeal worm in woodland caribou and other boreal species.

Through this grant, Dr. Phil McLoughlin (PhD), associate professor in the College of Arts and Science, and his team will study the population dynamics of deer in the southeastern part of the caribou range. This work uses state-of-the-art radio collars and trail cameras, enabling the team to better understand animal movements and develop a comprehensive transmission model. The results of this research will provide the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment with valuable insights to develop science-based policies and management actions that prioritize the conservation of woodland caribou and their habitat.

“We know these diseases put the long-term survival of woodland caribou and other boreal species at risk, which is why we are proud to support Dr. Mcloughlin’s innovative research,” said Environment Minister Dana Skoropad. “This grant reflects our government’s commitment to protecting Saskatchewan’s unique wildlife and habitat, including our threatened woodland caribou populations.”

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.  We are very grateful for the province’s interest and financial support in this important research,” said McLoughlin.

Woodland caribou are a species at risk, and the spread of CWD and meningeal worm into the boreal forest poses a significant threat to their survival, as well as the survival of other cervid species. The presence of CWD in deer of the SK2 woodland caribou range and the northwesterly spread of meningeal worm has heightened the urgency to further understand transmission risks for caribou and other boreal species.

This grant builds upon previous funding from the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund to a larger umbrella project led by McLoughlin involving moose populations and the spread of meningeal worm in Saskatchewan.


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