With California’s Big Game Drawing complete and big game hunters planning in state and out of state hunting trips this fall, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds hunters once again to be vigilant in helping to keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) out of California.
CWD is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk, moose and reindeer. It has been detected in captive or free-ranging deer in 26 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease spreads through contact with infected animals, tissues and environments. CDFW has been testing and monitoring for CWD in California deer and elk herds for more than 20 years with no detections to date.
“Our big game hunters have been incredible partners in this effort and should be proud,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, CDFW wildlife veterinarian. “The potential for this deadly disease to spread to California remains very real. We all need to remain vigilant and adhere to CWD best practices. That includes testing harvested animals, following safety recommendations when cleaning and handling game, knowing and abiding by state regulations when transporting harvested deer or elk meat into California from out of state.”
Get Your Animals Tested
CDFW will once again staff voluntary CWD sampling and hunter check stations throughout the state during upcoming deer seasons. At these locations, hunters can have their deer tag validated while contributing to CWD surveillance. A list of sampling locations and dates will be available at CDFW’s CWD web page. If hunting out of state, be sure to check with that state’s wildlife agency for any mandatory CWD 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 CWD zones. CDFW recommends testing any deer or elk harvested in a CWD-positive area, whether there is a mandatory test requirement or not. Most states will have information on how to get a deer or elk tested for CWD. CDFW does not routinely test out of state animals.
Use Caution When Handling Game
Hunters are advised to wear gloves when field dressing and processing their animals. A best practice to prevent the movement of CWD is to bone out meat from harvested animals, leaving brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen and lymph nodes where the animal was harvested. Hunters should wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing and avoid eating meat from sick or CWD-positive animals.
Report Sick Animals
Report any deer or elk exhibiting abnormal signs via CDFW’s online Mortality Reporting system.
Know the Laws When Bringing Deer or Elk Into California
The California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 712 governs the importation of hunter-harvested deer and elk into California. It is unlawful to import, or possess any hunter harvested deer or elk (cervid) carcass or parts of any cervid carcass imported into the state, except for the following body parts:
portions of meat with no part of the spinal column, brain or head attached (other bones, such as legs and shoulders, may be attached).
hides and capes (no spinal column, brain tissue or head may be attached).
clean skull plates (no brain tissue may be present) with antlers attached.
antlers with no meat or tissue attached, except legally harvested and possessed antlers in the velvet stage are allowed, if no meat, brain or other tissue is attached.
finished taxidermy mounts with no meat or tissue attached (antlers in the velvet stage are allowed if no meat, brain or other tissue is attached).
upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, ivories).
For more information on keeping California’s deer and elk herds safe and free from CWD, please visit CDFW’s CWD web page.