A commission will look at ways to keep chronic wasting disease out of Oregon.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday in Portland to vote on adding rules for dealing with banned animal parts that get into the state from areas with chronic wasting disease.
Previously, commissioners made permanent the rules that place restrictions on game meat and trophies coming into the state from areas with the dreaded disease.
The disposal rules are a clarification of how to deal with banned parts such as brains, nerves and spinal cords when those are found.
“It’s primarily to add clarifying language,” said Don Whittaker. “Last month, in June, commissioners made permanent the ban on the importation of carcass parts.”
The potential regulatory hole that the parts-disposal rules are designed to plug deals with hunters who may have been ignorant about the rules when returning from hunting out of state with game meat, or to help taxidermists or processors who may be confronted with potentially infected animal parts.
Whittaker, who will be presenting the proposed rules at Friday’s meeting, is a biologist who deals with animal disease issues for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Options for disposal of prohibited animal parts under the new rules are incineration — cremation at 800 degrees or hotter — or disposal in a sanitary landfill certified for no leaching of contaminants.
If the rules sound like overkill, consider the potential of chronic wasting disease, CWD as it commonly is known, and the lack of knowledge about how long it remains deadly in the environment, Whittaker said.
Chronic wasting disease, which is linked to an abnormal protein known as a prion, is related to mad cow disease. CWD is a nontreatable, fatal disease that has been found in farm-raised and wild herds in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Illinois and parts of Canada.
States and provinces have spent millions of dollars, and killed thousands of domestic and wild deer and elk, in efforts to eradicate or control CWD.
“We don’t know how viable those nasty prion parts are in the environment,” Whittaker said. “The biggest concern is the uncertainty of not having the answers on that question.”
At a site in Colorado where research on chronic wasting was done, the animals were destroyed, the pens and grounds sterilized and allowed to go untouched for a year.
Uninfected animals brought into the facility after the one-year lull became infected with CWD, Whittaker said.
“Of course, 100 percent of the animals (originally being studied) were sick with the disease at very high levels,” he said about the contamination.
Other items on Friday’s commission agenda include:
-A presentation and vote on the package of Access and Habitat Program auction and raffle tags to be offered this year.
-An “informational briefing” about trapping and hunting seasons for commercial fur trappers and those who hunt unprotected animals.
-A discussion and votes about permit applications for developmental (commercial) ocean fishing permits.