Friday, 23 October 2020

California Outdoors: Latest on chronic wasting disease in cervids, measuring fish, two rifles while hunting

Photo of a buck courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What's the latest on chronic wasting disease in cervids?

Question: What is California doing to protect our deer and elk from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) this season? What do I need to know if I am hunting out of state? (Bud)

Answer: As many hunters are aware, CWD is a fatal neurological disease affecting deer and elk. It has not been found in California's deer or elk populations to date. However, it has been detected in captive and free-ranging deer in 26 states and abroad.

Increased testing is critical to ensure early detection and quick implementation of management options in response to a detection in California. This year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is focused on expanding the scope of its monitoring and testing efforts. CDFW's Wildlife Investigations Lab set a goal of testing 600 cervids statewide during this year's hunting seasons as a step toward increasing surveillance to around 2,000 animals per year in the future. CDFW has been testing for CWD since 1999, averaging about 300 tests annually.

Hunter cooperation will be key to achieving CWD testing goals. CDFW is setting up sampling stations during the various deer seasons allowing hunters to voluntarily bring in their harvest for a quick removal of lymph nodes for CWD testing. Information on sampling locations is available on CDFW's website. CDFW is also partnering with professional meat processors and butchers throughout the state to take samples from deer and elk at the request of hunters. Hunters who are unable to visit a station for sampling are encouraged to ask their butcher ahead of time if sampling is available at the time of processing.

If you harvest a deer or elk out of state, you will be responsible for abiding by regulations related to CWD for that state. To prevent the accidental importation of CWD-infected tissues into the state, California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 712prohibits hunters from importing or possessing any hunter harvested deer or elk (cervid) carcass or parts of any cervid carcass imported into the state, except for the following body parts:

(a) portions of meat with no part of the spinal column, brain or head attached (other bones, such as legs and shoulders, may be attached).
(b) hides and capes (no spinal column, brain tissue or head may be attached).
(c) clean skull plates (no brain tissue may be present) with antlers attached.
(d) 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.
(e) 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).
(f) upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, ivories).

If hunting in a state where CWD is present, make sure to check with that state's wildlife agency for information about hunter check stations and how to get your animal tested in the state where it is harvested. An animal that is taken in a CWD endemic zone should be processed in that area or state. The best and safest approach is to bring back only packaged meat or prepared taxidermy specimens. If a harvested animal tests positive for CWD, CDFW supports the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to not consume the meat. Additionally, we request that the hunter contact a CDFW office or the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory to have all remaining tissues incinerated.

How to properly measure a fish

Question: I am under the impression that striped bass are to be measured using the "total length" measurement, and not the fork length. Is this correct? (Stu)

Answer: Yes. Most freshwater fish with a size limit, including stripers, are measured to total length. This is the longest straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the end of the longest lobe of the tail (CCR, Title 14, section 1.62). The first rule when measuring fish is to lay the fish flat on its side and always pinch the mouth closed. The most accurate method is to place the fish's snout against a perpendicular surface and then measure along the intersecting horizontal surface to the end of the tail. Don't measure using a flexible "tape" over the fish itself or you will be given a longer (false) reading.

On the ocean side, most saltwater fish with size limits are measured to total length, but there are some that are measured to fork length instead (e.g. bonito, albacore, barracuda and yellowtail). Fork length is the straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the center of the tail fin (CCR, Title 14, section 1.62). So again, lay the fish flat on its side, pinch the mouth closed and take your measurement from the tip of the head to the center of the fork of the tail. These are the only two measurements that you will need to know for the purposes of the regulations when measuring whole fish.

Two rifles while hunting?

Question: Can I carry two rifles when hunting – one for deer and one for squirrel? For example, a rimfire and a center fire? (TC)

Answer: Yes, for your example, you can carry a centerfire rifle to take deer (and squirrel) and a rimfire rifle to take squirrel.

If you have a question for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, please feel free to ask us via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. While they cannot answer every question, they will answer a few in each column.

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