How you can help wildlife studies

Animal Health Programs: monitoring wildlife health

The Deparment of Environment needs your help! Samples from hunted animals help us monitor the health of moose, caribou, bison, sheep, mountain goat, deer and elk.

Sample collection kits are available from any Environment Yukon office before hunting season opens and should be returned as soon as possible after the hunt. Hunters are asked to submit samples of fecal matter from their kills, and are welcome to submit any tissues that appear abnormal for an assessment. Parasites found on a carcass should also be submitted.

Environment Yukon is requesting samples from deer, moose, caribou, birds and bears to contribute to health monitoring programs. Please contact our Animal Health Unit at 867-667-5600 for more information.

Monitoring Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Environment Yukon is testing road-killed and harvested dear, elk, moose and caribou for CWD to ensure that, should this disease occur in Yukon, it will be detected early. To date, CWD has not been found in Yukon animals.

A portion of the brain and various glands from the head are collected for testing. The head will not be damaged and can be returned to the hunter.

Submit a moose, deer, or caribou hide and head a recieve a gift! The first 30 hunters that submit and hide or head will get a prize.

Hunting cervids outside Yukon

CWD is a growing threat to wildlife populations, particularly deer and elk. It has also occurred in moose, and caribou are susceptible. Animal carcasses and offal transported by hunters can transmit disease and disease-causing agents between regions.

Yukon has joined BC and Alaska in passing regulations relating to the import and/or transport of species susceptible to CWD.

The only exception to this rule are cervids harvested either in the NWT or in the two hunting zones in BC.

Some scent lures sold for the hunting of cervids contain animal urine or glands and could spread disease agents (particularly CWD prions) to new locations. The sale and/or possession of some of these lures is now prohibited. Check the Baiting and Poisoning section of the Yukon Hunting Regulations Summary for further information.

For more information about CWD, please contact the Program Veterinarian at 867-667-8663 or the Chief Veterinary Officer at 867-456-5582.

Winter tick monitoring

Winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) are present in Yukon. Inspections of elk, deer, moose and caribou hides have found that ticks are present on about half of all elk and deer, and on very few moose.

Winter ticks have not caused serious problems for Yukon wildlife. However, given their distribution across several Yukon species, they are likely here to stay. They do not carry diseases of concern to humans or wildlife, and they do not affect meat of harvested animals. These ticks are unlikely to attach themselves to humans or dogs.

Please report any observation of ticks on pets or wildlife to Environment Yukon. For more information or to report ticks, contact the Animal Health Unit at 867-667-5600.

We are monitoring the the presence and severity of winter ticks on elk, moose, deer and caribou in Yukon. Hides from road-killed and harvested animals are examined by wildlife technicians. We are asking that successful hunters submit samples from these species to an Environment Yukon office. The examination does not damage the hide, which can be returned to the hunter.

Report winter ticks and impacts on their hosts

Report observations of ticks.

Submit photos and reports to the Animal Health Unit's laboratory coordinator at 867-667-5285 or online through the Yukon Winter Tick Monitoring Project on inaturalist.ca.

Bison health monitoring

Environment Yukon is interested in learning more about the health of the Aishihik wood bison herd. Please submit any abnornal-looking tissues from your bison. When you submit the head from a bison, we can collect samples and use them to evaluate various aspects of bison health. Heads will not be damaged and can be returned to the hunter.

Yukon bear research

We are asking hunters for their assistance in gathering information on grizzly and black bears.

Please record the location of your kill site and bring that information to an Environment office. A wildlife technician will map the location on a database and ask to take a small sample of hide (one square inch).

Having a precise location of where a bear was killed (within a 100 meters of the kill location) and a small piece of hide with the hair can go a long way to telling us how healthy a population is. The location ties the biological information of the bear to an exact location and habitat. The hide and hair sample can be used for DNA, to get information about diet, and to detect the stress levels of the bear.

Information collected through this process will help direct harvest away from areas with declining populations and toward areas with healthy populations.

Monitoring general bird health

We are interested in learning more about the health of Yukon birds. We examine dead birds to learn about why they died, and collect samples to evaluate various aspects of bird health.

Avian flu

Hunters have been shooting and eating wild birds, including waterfowl species known to be carriers of avain influenza, for centuries without ill effects. Severly ill wild birds are rarely healthy enough to fly and are more likely to die of expsoure and predation than to be shot by hunters.

Cooking will kill the vast majority of pathogens, including avian influenza. Hunters are encouraged to use care in field dressing game birds and to avoid contaminating meat with fecal material. All wild game should be well-cooked to reduce the chance of spreading disease.

Northern Contaminants Program: Testing Yukon wildlife

The federal Northern Contaminants Program monitored contaminant levels in Yukon moose and caribou until 2004, and is currently monitoring contaminant levels in the Porcupine caribou herd.

For more information about contaminants in wildlife, contact the Yukon Contaminant Committee at 867-667-3326.


Contact Client Services

Phone: 867-667-5652
Toll-free (in Yukon, NWT & Nunavut):
1-800-661-0408 ext. 5652
Fax: 867-393-7197

Email: environmentyukon@gov.yk.ca
Address: Box 2703 (V-3A) Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada Y1A 2C6