SALEM – During the upcoming deer and elk hunting seasons, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking deer and elk hunters to assist with collection of vital wildlife disease information.

“We are asking hunters to bring their deer and elk carcasses to biological check stations or their nearest ODFW office to be sampled for chronic wasting disease,” said Colin Gillin, ODFW state wildlife veterinarian. ODFW District Wildlife Biologists also will be collecting samples during their field hunter checks.”

While the disease has not been found in Oregon wildlife to date, Gillin noted that chronic wasting disease (CWD) is spreading and now infects deer and elk in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. CWD is an untreatable, always fatal neurological disease of deer and elk. Although similar to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or “Mad Cow Disease”, CWD is a disease of deer and elk and is not infective or transmissible to people.

“Chronic wasting disease is part of a unique family of chronic neurologic diseases called prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies,” said Gillin. “The disease was recognized more than 30 years ago as a syndrome in a state wildlife research facility in Colorado. Its natural hosts include mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk. Sheep and cattle have not been found to be naturally susceptible to CWD.”

The disease is present in wild populations of deer and elk, and occurs in farmed deer and elk maintained for agricultural purposes. CWD currently is found in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Utah, as well as the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Observations of infected deer and elk in captivity indicate that the disease is highly contagious. However, the exact mechanism of transmission has not been identified. CWD likely exits the animal in saliva or feces and then re-infects susceptible deer and elk by direct contact between animals or by environmental contamination.

Another concern and avenue for the introduction of CWD into the state is via hunter-harvested deer and elk from states that have CWD-infected animals, noted Gillin. Precautionary measures taken to protect Oregon ’s wildlife from CWD and keep the disease from entering Oregon include a ban on deer and elk carcass parts containing central nervous system tissue from animals killed in states or provinces with a documented case of CWD.

The following parts may be imported:

  • Meat cut and wrapped commercially or privately;
  • Meat that has been boned out;
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached;
  • Hides and/or capes with no head attached;
  • Skull plates with antlers attached that have been cleaned of all meat and brain tissue (velvet antlers are allowed);
  • Antlers with no tissue attached (velvet antlers are allowed);
  • Upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers and ivories); and
  • Finished taxidermy heads.

Hunters traveling to other states or Canada are advised to thoroughly read local hunting regulations to be sure they comply with that state or Province’s requirements for evidence of sex, transport, and tagging.

Voluntary check stations will be manned from dawn to dusk and signs will be located on along the highway to identify check station locations. The locations and dates of voluntary CWD check stations where hunters may bring deer and elk carcasses to be sampled for chronic wasting disease are:

  • Brothers check station: Oct. 1-3, located in the ODOT Maintenance Station in Brothers, on Highway 20, about 30 miles east of Bend.

  • Prineville check station: Oct. 2-3 and Oct. 29-30, located just east of Prineville on US Highway 26.

  • LaGrande Region check station: Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 29-30, located at the Animal Health Center, 10302 Oregon Highway 82 in Island City.

Additional check stations may be set up at other locations throughout the course of hunting seasons. ODFW will provide additional notifications as check stations are opened.

For more information on CWD or ODFW check stations, call Don Whittaker at 503-947-6300.