PORTLAND — In a bid to keep chronic wasting disease out of Oregon, a temporary ban on bringing live deer, elk and other related species into the state has been extended through August 2004.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to extend the ban with some minor changes on the emergency, temporary rules it put in place in August.
The commission is the rule-making body for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The seven-member commission meets monthly.
Part of the temporary ban affecting bringing in parts of carcasses from the deer and elk family, animals known as cervids, was not made permanent. So that section of the rules — which affects Oregon hunters going out of state, taxidermists, meat processors and research programs — will expire Feb. 11, after big-game seasons wrap up in most states.
Commissioners decided instead to consider modified rules on meat and other parts brought into the state as part of the 2004 big-game regulations when those are decided in June.
The original August emergency exclusions had to be modified in October because of concerns by taxidermists, butchers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates a wildlife forensics laboratory in Ashland.
It is hoped that by June, a workable, permanent solution for avoiding the spread of chronic wasting disease and accommodating those who want to bring animal parts from cervids into the state can be worked out, commissioners said.
Along with the ban on bringing live cervids into the state, the commission members approved a rule change related to proof of the gender of hunter-killed animals.
Because of the animal-parts restrictions approved in August, there had been conflicts with Oregon’s rules and hunting regulations in other Western states about the need for hunters to keep some parts to prove whether the animal was male or female.
In meeting Oregon’s requirements, some out-of-state hunters were in violation of hunting rules for transporting sport-killed animals in other states when they returned home.
Chronic wasting disease 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.
Little is known about the transmission of the disease, biologists said. But it is generally accepted that the disease is not transmittable from animals to humans.
Commissioners voted on two exceptions to the rule prohibiting bringing live cervids into Oregon:
Reindeer operations based in the state are allowed to take animals out of state and bring them back, provided the animals have not been in contact with any other cervids.
Reindeer are raised mainly for display or other holiday activities.
Wildlife researchers in northeast Oregon have a one-time exemption to bring 14 elk from the Starkey Experimental Herd back into the state from where the animals are being held in Washington.
Fish and Wildlife biologists said there is minimal risk that reindeer and the 14 elk have been or would be exposed to chronic wasting disease.
Commissioners also voted to allow public comment to continue for 90 days on a proposal to let the Oregon Zoo be exempt from the importation ban.