With deer season beginning in several zones, California hunters who plan to hunt deer and elk out-of-state must follow strict new guidelines to minimize the chance of spreading Chronic Wasting Disease to California elk and deer herds.

The new permanent regulation, adopted by the Fish and Game Commission in April, will not allow whole carcasses and heads to be brought into California.

Only the following body parts will be allowed: 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 and upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, ivories).

How CWD is transmitted from one animal to another remains a mystery. Since the disease agent is present in nervous tissue, not allowing brain or spinal cord tissue to be brought into the state will minimize the risk of introducing CWD.

CWD is a neurological disease that is fatal to deer and elk. It has been found in wild deer and elk in limited areas of Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Disease experts believe CWD is passed through direct animal-to-animal contact and possibly by indirect contact with the highly resistant CWD prion, the suspected disease agent, in a contaminated environment.

CWD has not been found in California deer and elk. California is considered a “low risk” state because of its long-term ban on the importation of live elk, prohibition on elk farming, and its strict monitoring of live deer importations.

Archery deer hunting season begins Sept. 1 in several zones. General hunting begins on Sept. 20.

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