Californians who hunt out of state and return with the game must follow a state regulation designed to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. State residents who bring deer and elk into California must comply with a strict regulation designed to prevent the introduction of the disease or face potential citations, fines and jail time.

”We need the public’s cooperation in preventing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease to California. The impact could be devastating on our deer herds, as well as on social and economic hunting activities,” said DFG Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Pam Smith. “Although we’ve learned a lot about the disease in recent years, we still don’t know how it’s transmitted from one animal to another.”

Although the disease has not been found in California, it has spread to 13 states; Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, West Virginia and the Canadian provinces; Saskatchewan and Alberta. Scientists have not discovered a cure for the disease, which is very resilient and has a long incubation period.

Since animals carry the disease in their nervous tissue, California’s regulation bans importing brain or spinal cord tissue from deer and elk harvested out of state. “In other words, no skull, no backbone,” Swift said.

“When the regulation took effect in 2002 our emphasis was on public education,” said DFG Lieutenant Joe Brana. “This year, we may cite violators with a misdemeanor.”

Conviction carries a punishment of up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. According to the regulation (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 712), only the following hunter-harvested deer and elk parts may be brought into California:

  • boned-out meat and commercially processed cuts of meat
  • portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
  • hides with no heads attached
  • clean skull plates (no meat or tissue attached) with antlers attached
  • antlers with no meat or tissue attached
  • finished taxidermy heads
  • upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, ivories)

For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease, visit the DFG Web site:

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