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Commercial deer, elk scents under scrutiny

The Oregon Legislature is mulling a bill that would ban some commercial deer and elk urine scents as another way to keep Chronic Wasting Disease from establishing in Oregon.

House Bill 2294 would allow the sale of commercial urine scents derived only from captive herds that are certified as CWD-free.

The bill has the support of the Medford-based Oregon Hunters Association and had its first hearing Tuesday in the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Some hunters use the products, derived from deer or elk urine, as an attractant in the field.

A 2017 study shows that CWD-infected elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer can shed the prion protein causing CWD in their urine, even before they exhibit CWD symptoms, according to Clinton Epps, an associate professor in Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Deer and elk are apt to sniff or lick areas where the urine products are applied, and CWD prions in urine aren’t killed by regular disinfection procedures and can remain infectious in soil for years, according to Epps’ written testimony to the committee.

At least seven other states have banned commercial sale of urine from captive deer and elk, allowing only synthetic alternatives, Epps states.

“Thus, beyond supporting restriction of sale of urine from any herd not certified as CWD-free, I suggest banning use of cervid urine altogether, in favor of synthetic alternatives now available on the market,” Epps says.

CWD damages the brain of infected animals, causing progressive neurological disease and loss of body function. Untreatable and always fatal, it spreads through nose-to-nose contact between infected animals and through body fluids.

Colin Gillin, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife state veterinarian, has called CWD “one of the most devastating wildlife diseases on the American landscape,” and it could eradicate free-ranging deer and elk if it took hold here.

Free Fishing Weekend again

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon Saturday and Sunday.

Oregon’s first Free Fishing Weekend of the year was aligned by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to coincide with the Presidents Day weekend.

While anyone can fish, crab or clam without any licenses or tags, all bag limits and other angling rules remain in effect.

‘King tides’ coming

This winter’s third series of “king tides,” the highest tides of the year, will reach Southern Oregon shores Sunday through Wednesday, giving coastal residents a glimpse of what rising sea levels could look like.

Monday’s 10 a.m. high tide is predicted to be 8.3 feet at Brookings, followed by a 5 p.m. low tide of minus 1.4 feet. That’s a tidal fluctuation of 9.7 feet.

King tides are a nonscientific term referring to high tide events where the sun, moon and Earth align, causing greater than usual gravitational pull on the tides, according to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Deer scents under scrutiny in fight against CWD infection in Oregon.