Commissioners were told that so far, all wildlife samples collected during the 2002 hunting seasons have gotten a clean bill of health in testing for chronic wasting disease.

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a nontreatable, fatal disease that has been found in farm-raised and wild deer and elk in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Illinois and parts of Canada.

Ron Anglin, the Wildlife Division administrator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said more than two-thirds of the almost 900 samples of deer and elk have been tested at a veterinary laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

Of the total samples of black-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and white-tailed deer, lab officials said about 840 were usable.

Of those, 642 have been tested, with no trace of the disease, Anglin said.

“All came back negative. That’s very encouraging,” he said.

Officials in Ames said of the 249 remaining Oregon samples, 180 are testable.

Those results will be available for the June commission meeting, when commissioners consider big-game regulations. Department biologists will offer their plan for sample collection during this year’s seasons, Anglin said.

The one potential hitch, he said, is if the federal government stops paying for testing.

“At this point, there’s no cost to Oregon,” Anglin said. “If they stop paying, the estimate is $30 to $50 per sample.”

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