Chronic Wasting Disease continues to threaten Oregon elk, deer

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – Elk parts from states where elk and moose have been found infected with Chronic Wasting Disease have been introduced into the Rogue Valley.

For now, Oregon is still a CWD-free state. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the two elk hunters who brought the elk parts to Oregon from Colorado and Wyoming “jeopardized the health and population of Oregon’s deer, elk, and moose.”

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that hasn’t been detected yet in Oregon. The risk of infection posed to wild animals is high because just one case of infection can affect the future of all susceptible animals in the state and beyond.

The two hunters were cited by Oregon State Police.

Duane Dungannon is the state’s coordinator for the Oregon Hunters Association. He said hunters play a critical role in keeping CWD out of the state. “We need hunters who go out of state to be vigilant and not bring prohibited ungulate parts back to Oregon. CWD represents perhaps the greatest threat to our big game because it has the potential to devastate our ungulate populations.”

According to ODFW, CWD is caused by a prion that damages brain tissue of infected animals, causing loss of body control and eventually death. The prions can last a long time in the environment and can infect new animals for decades. It’s considered one of the most devastating wildlife diseases in modern-day America.

“Once CWD enters a state and infects free-ranging deer and elk, it has been nearly impossible to eradicate with present day tools. We want to do all we can to keep Oregon CWD-free,” said ODFW State Wildlife Veterinarian Colin Gillin.

People importing deer, elk, or moose parts into Oregon should only bring parts without spinal cord or brain tissue. ODFW asks taxidermists, hunters and regular citizens to remain vigilant about CWD. Anyone who sees or harvests a sick deer or elk should report it ODFW by calling 866-968-2600 or by email at [email protected].

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