Wildlife Health and Disease

The vast majority of Manitoba's wildlife is very healthy. Natural selection, through predation, ensures that only the healthiest of wild animals survive. Sick, diseased, or injured wild animals are quickly killed and eaten by a wide variety of predators including wolves and coyotes. This natural process ensures the overall health of Manitoba's wildlife.

Diseases can significantly affect wildlife populations in situations where natural habitat and environmental conditions have been altered. An example is the loss of natural habitat for elk through land clearing and agricultural activities. The situation becomes worse when elk, searching for browse, encounter rich food sources such as hay bales left in fields over the winter. Elk may crowd together to feed on this forage thereby increasing the chance of disease transmission.

Monitoring Disease Occurrences in Wildlife

Manitoba Sustainable Development will continue to monitor the occurrence of diseases in wildlife so that steps can be taken to reduce their impact. Hunters are encouraged to report of the following to the nearest Manitoba Sustainable Development office:

  • any die-offs of animals encountered, including birds
  • sightings of elk, moose, and white-tailed deer with ear tags
  • locations where elk, moose, and white-tailed deer are congregating near hay bales or feedlots
  • illegal feeding areas


By law, hunters are required to submit biological samples of elk and deer taken in certain Game Hunting Areas (GHAs) to Manitoba Sustainable Development. Samples are assessed for disease as part of the monitoring efforts. Hunters who fail to submit these samples will be prosecuted. Please note that if the necessary sample targets are not achieved through hunter submissions, the removal of elk and deer by Manitoba Sustainable Development after the hunting seasons may be required. 

Samples are required from elk and white-tailed deer taken in GHAs 5, 6, 6A, 11, 12, 13, 13A, part of 18 and 18B west of PR 366, 18A, 18C, part of 22 west of PTH 83, 23, 23A, and new for 2018, GHA 27.

Big game hunters are encouraged to have elk, moose, and white-tailed deer, harvested along the U.S.A. border within two (2) townships, tested for Chronic Wasting Disease by submitting the entire head to a Drop-Off Depot.

Provisions have been made so hunters may retain their antlers attached to bone plate and cape and still fulfill legal requirements to submit samples.  The head, lungs and windpipe are not needed for a mount.  Before submitting the required biological sample, the animal should be caped, and the antlers and bone plate removed from the remainder of the head. The remaining head, lungs and windpipe may then be submitted to a Drop-off Depot.  Manitoba Sustainable Development allows hunters 48 hours from the time of the kill to submit samples to accommodate these actions.  

When removing antlers a shallow v-notch cut should be made through the skull (see photo below). This cut should be no deeper than the midpoint of the eye socket. Please ensure that any tissues, for example brain matter, that may be become detached using this method, are included with the remainder of the sample.  Hunters should note, tagging requirements stipulate that the head and antlers must be labeled with the applicable tag provided with the hunting licence. Therefore, hunters should take care to keep the antlers with the head until the sample is submitted, or contact Manitoba Sustainable Development for clarification.

Antler Removal

Antler Removal

Samples may be submitted to any of the following Drop-off Depots during regular business hours in the hunting seasons:

  • Benito Premium Meats Ltd - Benito, MB
  • Boissevain District Office - Boissevain, MB
  • The Iron Rail - Cartwright, MB
  • Dauphin Co-op - Dauphin, MB
  • Dauphin Big Game Health Lab - Dauphin, MB
  • H. L. & K. Enterprises Ltd. - Grandview, MB
  • Mafeking Gas & Grocery - Mafeking, MB
  • PJD Mechanical - Manitou, MB
  • Five & Fifty Sales & Service - McCreary, MB
  • White Owl Holdings Inc. - Melita, MB
  • Olha General Store - Olha, MB
  • Prairieland Taxidermy - Pierson, MB
  • West Souris River Conservation District - Reston, MB
  • The No.5 Store - Riding Mountain, MB
  • 3-Way Service - Roblin, MB
  • Russell & District Veterinary Clinic - Russell, MB
  • McKelvey's - San Clara, MB
  • Boggy Creek Taxidermy - San Clara, MB
  • Co-op Gas Station - South Junction, MB
  • Integra Tire - Ste. Rose, MB
  • Rough Country Sports - Swan River, MB
  • Kelsey Trail XTR - The Pas, MB
  • White Owl Service Ltd. - Virden, MB
  • Co-op Gas Station - Vita, MB
  • Riding Mountain National Park - Wildlife Lab - Wasagaming, MB
  • Tempo - Winkler, MB

When a hunter submits a sample they will be issued an official receipt.  It is the hunter's responsibility to ensure that all relevant information is recorded accurately on the receipt.  A copy of the receipt (yellow) must be retained by the hunter (or partner) as proof that the sample has been submitted.

Manitoba Sustainable Development
Appreciates Hunter Co-operation

Hunters who submit elk and deer samples under the bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease programs will receive a token of appreciation when samples are submitted. Hunters have contributed greatly to our understanding of diseases in wildlife and your continued support of these programs is appreciated.