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State alters ban on importing carcasses.

Byline: From Register-Guard and news service reports

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a couple of exceptions to its ban on importing deer and elk carcasses from states with chronic wasting disease.

The temporary emergency rule was adopted in response to concerns about the potential spread of chronic wasting disease into Oregon's wild and game farm herds of deer and elk.

The regulation prohibits the import of hunter-harvested deer and elk carcasses, except for boned, processed or quartered meat, hides and skull plates that had no part of the spinal column or brain attached, or finished taxidermy heads.

State wildlife officials say the rule caused unintended problems for taxidermists and meat processing plants in Oregon. Many hunters from surrounding states frequently bring carcasses to Oregon to be processed. In addition, hunters bring deer or elk heads to Oregon taxidermists for mounting, officials said.

The ban also interfered with shipments of deer and elk carcasses to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service animal forensic lab in Ashland for analysis and investigation.

The amended rule approved last week grants taxidermists an exception to the import ban. It also allows the federal lab to receive carcasses from any state for purposes of analysis and investigation, officials said.

``The reason for the ban in the first place was to protect Oregon's wildlife from CWD, and the amended rule, while allowing reasonable flexibility, continues to protect the state's wildlife from CWD,'' said Larry Cooper, ODFW wildlife division deputy administrator.

Meanwhile, state wildlife biologists will continue efforts this weekend to sample Oregon's wild herds for the disease. The new samples will add to the more than 200 samples already collected. All samples tested between 1997 and 2001 found no evidence of the disease agent in the state's captive or wild herds of deer and elk.

Results of all the deer and elk tissue samples collected this fall are expected to be available in mid to late spring 2003, and will be publicized.

Chronic wasting disease leads to progressive loss of body function, behavioral changes, excessive salivation and death. In the later stages, small holes in the brain tissue of affected animals are visible with a microscope, producing a spongy look characteristic of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, called scrapie in sheep and mad cow disease in cattle.

Chronic wasting disease has been found in free-ranging and captive mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Scientists are investigating whether the disease may pass to humans, as mad cow disease did in Europe. No cases of chronic wasting disease have been found infecting humans, but the deaths from brain-destroying illnesses of three outdoorsmen from Wisconsin and Minnesota who shared wild game feasts are the subject of a government investigation.
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Title Annotation:Animals
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Oct 24, 2002
Previous Article:Oregon Update.
Next Article:Fungus forays.

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