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OWRA/ODFW Meeting 12/5/2023

At the 2023 OWRA conference, ODFW state veterinarian, Dr. Colin Gillin kindly offered monthly meetings with the OWRA board members, to give us the most up to date information from ODFW.

Here is the summery of our first meeting on12/5.


  • Bats 

  • OK to take bats in for euthanasia purposes 

  • Main concern from ODFW: A sick, asymptomatic person giving a native bat covid 

  • Big brown bats and little brown bats have been shown in studies to NOT replicate the virus, so Dr. Gillin is hopeful that we could continue rehabilitating these species at some point. 

  • Brazilian free-tailed bats have been shown to become infected and replicate and shed a lot of the COVID virus, so the native free-tailed bat is a big concern and will likely not be allowed to be rehabilitated in the near future. 

  • The rest of the native species (there are 15 native bat species in Oregon) have not been studied, but Dr. Gillin looks forward to having further information. 

  • A center paying to test bats for COVID out of pocket prior to release may be considered, but only if it’s the PCR test which will likely be cost prohibitive (the ELISA tests are not accurate enough). 

  • Ducks, waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds

  • ODFW’s main concern: Asymptomatic carriers that are shedding the virus being rehabilitated then spread around the center to other patients or going home on a volunteer to their pet birds. 

  • From the studies they’ve done on healthy hunter caught birds, mallards and teals have been the main ones to shed asymptomatically (although others have shown this as well). 

  • No rehabilitation of the adults of any of these species until this current spike in case numbers has lessened. 

  • Dr. Gillin is hopeful it will quiet down and may lift restrictions in the spring or summer 

  • Ducklings, goslings, and baby shorebirds/wading birds 

  • Rehabilitation of these babies IS allowed, but you MUST notify ODFW (your district biologist etc) if you have any in care. 

  • It sounds like really young ducklings/goslings may have antibodies from their parents from the egg, but it doesn’t last long. However, if they get sick they usually die immediately and don’t become asymptomatic shedders. 

  • ODFW recommends against taking any of these species (adults) even for euthanasia. They feel the risk to the center is great, and want us to tell the public to leave it be. 

  • If you do decide to take these species in for euthanasia as a public service if the public already has them in hand, then you do so at your own risk and ODFW would like to be notified if you have any suspicious cases. (They may or may not want to test them depending on how the virus is trending). 

  • Rabbits 

  • ODFW’s main concern: Spreading RHDV2 to particularly sensitive species of rabbits and their relatives (pygmy rabbits, pikas, white tailed jackrabbits) as well as concern of spreading to pet rabbits from volunteer’s clothing etc 

  • RHDV2 can live in rabbit feces for months 

  • There may be some evidence there are asymptomatic carriers (we’re looking into getting these studies to share with everyone) 

  • OK to rehab brush rabbits (or other native rabbits) on the west side of the cascades as long as the rabbit came from a local habitat 

  • (We plan to further define these boundaries in more detail at our next meeting) 

  • All rabbits originating East of the Cascades can only be admitted for euthanasia and cannot be rehabilitated at this time 

  • Fawns 

  • ODFW saw problems with disease spread within groups of fawns in a rehabilitation setting (specifically adenoviral hemorrhagic disease) that was heart breaking. One fawn would bring it in and they’d all die.

  • ODFW’s main concern: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is one of the main diseases that ODFW is concerned about spreading, as well as adenoviral hemorrhagic disease. 

  • Secondly, deer are VERY easy to become habituated and then become a danger to the public. Dr. Gillin described how often he is called in to euthanize deer that have become problematic and threatened to or actually injured someone because of it. It is very difficult to keep deer from being habituated in a rehabilitation setting

  • Thirdly, it’s very difficult to teach deer all of the life skills they need to survive in the wild in a rehab setting. Deer in the wild stay with their mothers for a long time to learn all of these skills, which we can’t replicate in a captive situation 

  • Therefore, ODFW believes it’s in the best interest of the fawns to not attempt rehabilitation, but to put our resources into attempting to re-home them with another doe instead. 

  • ODFW would love rehabilitator’s help with this, and Dr. Gillin did say it’s ok to take in a young fawn if only for the purpose to coordinate with ODFW and to try and foster it with a known doe or group of does that have fawns of similar age. 

  • This is usually only successful when the fawn is very young (first few weeks of life). 

  • Know that sometimes the fawns will not be accepted, and may be bullied out of the group 

  • If you are interested in helping with fawn fostering / re-homing, then reach out to your district biologist.  

On the agenda for next time: 

  • Defining rabbit rehabilitation boundaries in a little more detail 

  • Seeing if we can clarify timelines for when HPAI restrictions might lift, same with bats 

  • Discussing wildlife rehabilitation around state borders (specifically animals coming into this state from out of state when the closest wildlife rehabilitation (or only available center) is in Oregon) 

Our sincere thanks Dr. Gillin and Mr. Rick Boatner for taking the time out of their days to discuss these heavy and complex topics with us! 

Do you have specific rules or things you’d like clarified? Please send us suggestions or questions you have to! Right now we’re tackling some pretty big topics, but hope to continue clarifying rules and regulations once monthly with Dr. Gillin.

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