November 22, 2005
TRUCKEE – A surprise California Department of Fish and Game checkpoint set up at the agricultural station here netted 22 hunting and fishing violations on Sunday, according to state officials.
Fourteen wardens at the checkpoint inspected hunters returning with game from other Western states known to have deer and elk that have tested positive for chronic wasting disease. State officials are trying to prevent the syndrome, which is similar to mad cow disease, from spreading to California.
The state department, with the help of the Truckee Police Department, stopped 61 vehicles. Thirteen citations were issued for violations that could have spread the wasting disease. Conviction for the misdemeanor violation carries a maximum punishment of up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
The confiscated deer and elk remains, which filled five 40-gallon ice chests, were incinerated.
Twelve loaded guns found at the checkpoint were handed over to police.
One vehicle that tried to go around the checkpoint was stopped and found to hold seven deer. Wardens caught several other Fish and Game violations unrelated to the new law.
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The wardens at the agricultural station had no trouble picking out the hunters from the other vehicles passing through the station.
“It’s pretty obvious,” Foy said. “You look for camouflage or trucks towing campers.”
Chronic wasting disease is fatal in deer and elk, and no cure has been found. To date, the disease has only been found deer, elk and related species.
“California has deer and elk in our state, so we want to try very hard to prevent the disease from infecting our animals,” said Patrick Foy, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.
A California law enacted in 2003 prohibits out-of-state hunters from returning to California with the brains or spinal tissue of a deer or elk they killed in another state. The disease is transmitted through brain and spinal tissue, according to state biologists, so deer and elk killed in another state are required to be butchered in that state.
In its first year, the state department focused on educating hunters on the law, but this year they have taken violations seriously.
“(In the past), we’ve been really lightly enforcing it and educating people, but this year we’ve really started to crack down,” Foy said.
The Truckee checkpoint was the second that the state department has set up this year. It followed a Southern California check that netted 14 violations.