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Roadside stations will check animals for Chronic Wasting Disease

A roadside outpost near Prineville next week will be part of Oregon's continuing effort to ensure that Chronic Wasting Disease does not make a fatal reach into the state's wild deer and elk herds.

The Prineville Weigh Station off Highway 26 will join the Briggs Junction along Interstate 84 as two sites for successful hunters to get their deer checked for CWD by biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

CWD is an untreatable and fatal neurological disorder attacking deer, elk and moose in several western states and provinces in Canada.

Since 2002, the ODFW has tested more than 10,000 free-ranging deer and elk for CWD, and most of those have come from hunters bringing in their animals for testing.

To date, all tests have been negative, and that's a positive sign for the state.

The test stations will be manned from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday for the first weekend of deer season. The same stations also will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 1-2 for the first weekend of Rocky Mountain elk season.

Hunters can also telephone the ODFW's Central Point office at 541-826-8774 to set up a time to have the head of their deer or elk tested.

Since 2002, it has been illegal to bring any deer, elk or moose parts containing central nervous system tissue (such as the spinal chord and brain) into Oregon from states or Canadian provinces with a documented case of CWD.

Those states and provinces are Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Canadian provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The danger lies in the prions that cause CWD, which can last a long time in the environment. If the head and spinal column of an infected animal are disposed of in an area where Oregon's deer and elk could encounter the prions, they could contract the disease.

Last year, nine Oregonians were cited for violating the ban. A violation is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a $6,250 fine and a year in jail, as well as suspension of hunting privileges for two years.

Hunters may legally bring in meat that's been cut and wrapped either commercially or privately, as well as boned-out meat, hides or capes with no head attached. Also legal are skull plates with antlers attached (as long as they have been cleaned of all meat and tissue), finished taxidermy mounts and other tissue-free animal parts.

For more information on CWD, visit the CWD Alliance at www.cwd-info.org/index.php/fuseaction/policy.main.

Federal land managers are planning a guided hike Saturday into the Lower Rogue River Canyon to visit the oldest mining cabin still standing in the remote region.

Members of the federal Bureau of Land Management will lead the four-hour hike down the Rogue River Trail to its historic Whisky Creek Cabin.

The hike, which has a round trip of about six miles, is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the Grave Creek Boat Landing.

An unknown miner built the first cabin at Whisky Creek in 1880. The original structure was a crude shelter with a shake roof and a dirt floor.

The first mining claim filed on Whisky Creek was in 1917 by P.H. Rushmore, who sold it the following year to miner Cy Whiteneck, according to BLM records. Whiteneck stayed in the cabin until 1948, and made improvements.

A string of caretakers stayed in the cabin until 1973, when the BLM bought the deed and moved the last caretaker, Lou Martin, into a house at the agency's Rand visitor center.

The cabin was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

To get to Grave Creek, take Interstate 5 to the Merlin exit, then follow the Merlin-Galice Road 23 miles to its end at the ramp. For more information, telephone Lisa Brennan, BLM, at 541-471-6500.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.