CWD Checkpoints Serve to Educate Hunters
Department of Fish and Game (DFG) wardens stopped 142 cars and wrote 30 citations for Chronic Wasting Disease importation violations at statewide checkpoints this season. DFG wardens operated a series of checkpoints on two days, Oct. 25 and Nov. 20, to enforce compliance with regulations to prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into California during hunting season.
“The goal is not to issue citations,” said Capt. Mark Lucero. “It is to educate out-of-state hunters and prevent CWD from being introduced to California.” The number of people found not complying with California’s CWD has surprised biologists and wildlife veterinarians. “CWD has been transmitted to healthy deer and elk by exposure to infected material,” said DFG Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Pam Swift.
Since the regulation was adopted in 2003, DFG has made a concerted effort to educate hunters about the disease, including press releases, CWD Web page development, a CWD brochure and field contacts.
Checkpoints were set up at the Yermo Agricultural Check Station on Highway 15 in San Bernardino County, at the Hallelujah Junction Agricultural Check Station on H-395 in Lassen County, and at the Truckee Agricultural Check Station on Interstate 80. Wardens were assisted by law enforcement agencies and the Department of Agriculture. Conviction of a misdemeanor violation carries a maximum penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
CWD is a disease of deer and elk that infects nerve tissue in the spinal cord and brain, ultimately resulting in death. The disease is only beginning to be understood, and no one is sure how it is passed from one animal to another. It is found in 13 states, but is not known to exist in California. Three years ago, regulations were adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission to prevent out-of-state hunters from returning to California with the skull and spinal column of the carcasses to prevent hunters from bringing the infectious agent into the state. Members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) were on hand at the checkpoints to assist with removing the backbone and skull, allowing the hunter to retain the meat.
For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease, visit the DFG Web site: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/hunting/deer/wasting.html