HUNTING – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists have stepped up testing for chronic wasting disease on deer and elk carcasses taken by hunters.
Montana also has stepped up monitoring this year as the contagious neurological disease that causes elk and deer to lose weight and eventually die has been found in pockets of the country from central Pennsylvania to the Mountain West.
A chronic wasting disease sample collected by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in late October from a hunter-killed mule deer south of Billings was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease, the agency reported on Wednesday.
No cases have been reported in Oregon or Washington, but Greg Jackle, an ODFW biologist based in Prineville, said the disease can spread easily, and the department isn’t taking chances.
“The moment we start not sampling (deer and elk) at the highest rate, that’s when you miss something,” Jackle said.
Washington has been testing animals on a case by case basis if they show symptoms such as emaciation, said Madonna Luers, department state Fish and Wildlife Department spokeswoman in Spokane. But officials said they are considering more monitoring.
Hunters provide a convenient manner of testing by stopping at stations as they drive home from successful hunts. The testing takes about 10 minutes. Oregon was testing roughly 150 deer and elk per day during recent weekends.
Deer and elk afflicted with disease often go to lower elevations, bringing them closer to roads and putting them at a greater risk of being harvested or getting hit by a passing car.
There’s no evidence that eating meat from animals with chronic wasting disease is harmful to humans, but the department advises people not to eat infected animals, officials said.
Elwha River documentary plays at Magic Lantern
FISHERIES – The Memory of Fish, a film about the effort leading to dam removal and restoration of Washington’s Elwha River, will be screened at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Magic Lantern Theatre in Spokane.
American Rivers and award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Galvin are on a five-city tour to show the documentary featuring a man, the wild salmon he loves and his fight to free the river. The Elwha originates in Olympic National Park and flows to the saltwater pastures where salmon grow to maturity.
Cost is $10 and proceeds benefit American Rivers’ work in the Puget Sound-Columbia Basin.
Yellowstone roads closed as winter season starts
PARKS – If you want to get around most of Yellowstone National Park over the next several months, you’ll need a snowmobile or a snowcoach.
Most roads in the park – as well as the west, south and east entrances – closed on Monday for the winter to regular motor vehicle traffic. On Dec. 15, the park will be open to snowmobiles and snowcoaches, which are vehicles with treads that carry multiple passengers.
Panhandle Nordic Club to talk conditioning
SKIING – Conditioning for winter sports will be discussed in a free program for the Panhandle Nordic Club on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Avondale Golf Club, 10745 Avondale Loop, Hayden. Arrangements can be made for dinner at 6 p.m. by contacting Karen Williams, (208) 667-8790.
Video votes could boost Kaniksu Land Trust
CONSERVATION – A Sandpoint videographer has pledged to donate a $10,000 prize to to a local land trust project if enough people go online to vote for his film, “Land is my Sasquatch.”
The video by Scott Rulander is among 10 finalists in a competition sponsored by the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization.
The prize money would be applied to the Pine Street Woods project to acquire and preserve a 160-acre parcel in the North Idaho community, said Eric Grace, Kaniksu Land Trust director.
“Once in KLT ownership, the land will be open to the public for recreation, education and a place to host healthy living programs,” he said.
“Scott has made a wonderful short film that describes so well how we feel about nature – the wonder, the search for the untamed and the elusive.”
To see the videos and vote, visit landismy.org. Voting is open until Nov. 17.