Looking to help Oregon with efforts to improve monitoring for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently gave testimony to fund increased CWD sample collecting in the state.
Oregon is one of very few western states where CWD is yet to be detected, however it may be knocking at the door. In late 2021, biologists confirmed CWD in two hunter-harvested mule deer in Idaho a mere 30 miles from the Snake River and Oregon border.
“This is not a nice disease. If it gets into the state of Oregon, it’s terminal to anything that catches it,” Dave Wiley, RMEF lead Oregon volunteer, testified (go to 57:45 mark) before the Oregon House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources and Water. “RMEF strongly supports House Bill 2532. We recommend it to the committee for its full and unqualified support, approval and passage forward to the House.”
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website, the state wildlife agency “has been on the lookout for CWD since the late 1990s. Over the past 20+ years, staff collected and tested nearly 24,000 samples from hunter harvested, road-killed and other dead deer and elk found in the field.”
There are about 14,000 RMEF members and 23 chapters across Oregon.
Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 1,061 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $83.8 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 868,210 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 140,102 acres.
Earlier in 2023, RMEF and a coalition of partners successfully lobbied Congress to include the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act within legislation passed prior to the conclusion of the 117th session. It bolsters CWD research to develop testing methods, enhance detection efforts, better understand genetic resistance and helps with management by prioritizing funding for state and tribal wildlife agencies that have the highest incidence and greatest risk of CWD.
RMEF is also a founding member and sponsor of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance. In January 2022, RMEF announced the allocation of $100,000 in grant funding to assist with research promoting the scientific understanding of CWD.
(Photo source: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)