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Wildlife-feeding ban extended to aboriginal hunters to combat disease

The province has extended a ban on feeding deer, elk and moose in western Manitoba to aboriginal hunters to better control the threat of chronic wasting disease.

Officials say the ban was enacted after consultation with both groups.

Manitoba Big Game Health Program manager Richard Davis said chronic wasting disease (CWD) is common in Saskatchewan and south-eastern Alberta, but to date has not been detected in Manitoba. It's typically spread animal-to-animal through saliva, feces and urine.

"If anyone places anything as an attraction, they can be charged," Davis said, adding the original ban under the Wildlife Act was first put in place in 2003.

The new regulation recognizes aboriginal hunting rights have now been taken into consideration.

"The communities we talked to, the hunters we talked to, they're very much in favour of the work we're doing to prevent the spread of the disease," Davis said, adding subsistence hunting is not widely practised in western Manitoba.

CWD is a fatal disease of the central nervous system of deer and elk.

There is no evidence CWD can be spread to humans, but Davis said the World Health Organization recommends people don't eat the meat of an animal with CWD.

The theory behind a ban on feeding is infected animals probably transmit the disease through animal-to-animal contact and/or contamination of feed or water sources with saliva or bodily waste material, possibilities that increase greatly when animals gather at a single source of supplied food.

The new regulation comes about two months after the province made amendments to the Wildlife Act's general hunting regulation.

The first banned arrows that contain an explosive charge or a drug, scent or poison or have a drug, scent or poison applied to them.

The second outlawed the use of drones while hunting or guiding. The province defines a drone as an unmanned, remote-control "airborne vehicle." Drones could still be used to film or scout an area as long as they aren't hunting at the time.

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