CDFW Reminds Hunters to Help Keep Chronic Wasting Disease Out of California

Media Contacts:
Dr. Ben Gonzales, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 358-1464
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking hunters to help prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into California. CWD is a neurologic disease that is fatal to deer, elk and moose.

Out-of-state big game hunters should review CDFW’s hunting regulations regarding interstate transport of deer and elk before bringing game meat across state lines. www.fgc.ca.gov/public/notices/declaration.aspx.

“If an infected carcass is transported into California and is improperly disposed of in deer or elk habitat, it could result in infection of California cervids,” said CDFW Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Ben Gonzales. “If it enters the state, CWD has the potential to devastate our cervid populations and severely impact deer and elk hunting in California.”

California hunting regulations specifically prohibit importing brain or spinal cord tissue from deer and elk harvested outside of California to minimize the risk of introducing CWD into the state. Hunters are encouraged to only bring back deboned elk or deer meat. Wardens have the authority to inspect harvested game and conduct vehicle stops when successful hunters return to California.

It is unlawful to import, or possess any hunter harvested deer or elk 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).

California hunters who have been successful in other states must complete and return a declaration for entry form prior to returning home. The form is available at all CDFW regional offices and online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/entry-declaration.aspx. Failure to complete the form could result in a citation.

CWD has been detected in free-ranging cervids in 19 states and two Canadian provinces including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Saskatchewan and Alberta. There is no evidence the disease affects humans. A map of the areas infected with CWD can be found at www.cwd-info.org/index.php/fuseaction/about.map.