PORTLAND – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission held the line Friday evening and adopted a permanent ban on the importation of live animals from the deer and elk family. The new rule for live animals changes little from the temporary rule adopted in August.
The Commission chose not to act on a proposal to make permanent a temporary ban on the importation of certain parts of carcasses from the deer and elk family. Instead, the temporary rule, which governs the importation of hunter-harvested animals from other states, will expire Feb. 11, 2003. The Commission intends to consider a new proposal on carcass parts in June, 2003, when the 2004 Oregon Big Game Regulations are considered. The parts rule will be allowed to expire to develop better solutions for a permanent rule that protects wild herds from disease and allows taxidermists, butchers and laboratories to operate without undue constraints. The Commission did, however, change the rule related to proof of gender of harvested game to be consistent with other western states.
The Commission is the rule making body for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The seven-member panel meets monthly.
The permanent ban prohibits anyone from importing any animals in the cervid family into Oregon between now and August, 2004. The rules are designed to protect Oregon’s native deer and elk from chronic wasting disease. The fatal disease affects privately held and/or wild herds in Alberta, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Saskatchewan and Illinois. Little is known about the transmission of the disease.
Two exemptions were granted. Reindeer operations based in Oregon are allowed to take animals out of state and bring them back provided the animals have not been in contact with any other cervids. The Commission also allowed northeast Oregon wildlife researchers a one-time exemption to bring 14 elk from the Starkey Experimental Herd back into the state from Washington. ODFW biologists said there is minimal risk that reindeer and the 14 elk have been or would be exposed to CWD.
In addition, the Commission chose to allow public comment to continue for 90 days on a proposal to exempt the Oregon Zoo from the importation ban.