Department of Fisheries and Wildlife issues warning about chronic wasting disease

Chronic wasting disease infects deer, elk and moose species.

Information provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said that with the California Big Game Drawing completed and big game hunters planning in-state and out-of-state hunting trips in the fall, it is a once-in-a-lifetime reminder moreover, hunters should be vigilant to help keep chronic wasting disease (CWD) out of california.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk, moose and reindeer. It has been detected in captive and free-roaming deer in 26 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is spread through contact with infected animals, tissues and environments. The department has been testing and monitoring the disease in California deer and elk herds for more than 20 years without detection to date.

“Our big game hunters have been incredible partners in this effort and should be proud of it,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, Departmental Wildlife Veterinarian. “The potential for this deadly disease to spread in California remains very real. We all need to remain vigilant and adhere to the best practices in chronic wasting disease. This includes testing harvested animals, following safety recommendations when cleaning and handling game, knowing and following state regulations when transporting harvested deer or elk meat to California. from out of state.

Have your animals tested

The department will re-staff voluntary chronic wasting disease sampling and hunter monitoring stations statewide in future deer seasons. At these locations, hunters can validate their deer tag while helping to monitor chronic wasting disease. A list of sampling locations and dates will be available at SDC web page. If you are hunting outside of the state, be sure to check with that state’s wildlife agency for any mandatory disease testing or handling requirements in the area you will be hunting. Some states may restrict the movement of an animal carcass or other parts in areas of chronic wasting disease. Fish and Wildlife recommends testing any deer or elk harvested from an area positive for chronic wasting disease, whether or not there is a mandatory testing requirement. Most states will have information on how to get a deer or elk tested for the disease. Fish and Wildlife does not routinely test the state’s animals.

Be careful when handling the game

Hunters are advised to wear gloves when dressing and treating their animals in the field. A good practice to prevent the movement of chronic wasting disease is to debon the meat of harvested animals, leaving the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes where the animal was harvested. Hunters should wash their hands and implements thoroughly after dressing in the field and avoid eating meat from sick or chronic wasting disease-positive animals.

Report sick animals

Report any deer or elk showing abnormal signs through the Department’s online service Declaration of mortality system.

Know the laws when bringing deer or elk to California

The California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 712 governs the importation of deer and elk harvested by hunters in California. It is illegal to import or possess any deer or elk (cervid) carcass harvested by hunters or parts of any cervid carcass imported into the state, except for the following body parts:

  • portions of meat with no part of the spine, brain or head attached (other bones, such as legs and shoulders, may be attached).
  • leathers and cloaks (no spine, brain tissue or head can be attached).
  • clean cranial plates (no brain tissue can be present) with antlers attached.
  • antlers without attached meat or tissue, except for those harvested and legally owned at the velvet stage are permitted, if no meat, brains or other tissue is attached.
  • Finished taxidermy mounts with no meat or tissue attached (velvet stage antlers are allowed if no meat, brains or other tissue is attached).
  • upper canines (clear, whistling, ivory).

For more information on how to keep California deer and elk herds safe and free from chronic wasting disease, please visit CDFW’s CWD web page.

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