Hunters stopped at ag station checkpoint | SierraSun.com

Hunters stopped at ag station checkpoint

David Bunker

An unannounced California Department of Fish and Game checkpoint set up at the Truckee Interstate 80 agricultural station 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 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 game killed outside California is required to be butchered before it enters the state.In its first year, Fish and Game has 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 Fish and Game has set up this year. It followed a Southern California check that netted 14 violations. In Truckee, Fish and Game, with the help of the Truckee Police Department, stopped 61 vehicles. Thirteen citations were issued for violations that could have spread the wasting disease. A 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 gun infractions at the checkpoint were handed over to the Truckee Police Department.One vehicle that tried to go around the checkpoint was stopped and found holding seven deer. Wardens caught several other fish and game violations unrelated to the new law.The wardens at the agricultural station had no trouble picking out the hunters from the other vehicles passing through the station, Foy said.”It’s pretty obvious,” he said. “You look for camouflage or trucks towing campers.”Chronology of Chronic Wasting• 1967: Chronic wasting disease was first diagnosed clinically as a wasting syndrome in captive deer housed at Colorado research facilities. A few years later it was diagnosed in a Wyoming research facility.• 1981: The first cases of the disease in wild deer and elk were diagnosed in Colorado. It was found in wild deer in Wyoming in 1985.• 1980s: The spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer and elk in Colorado and Wyoming was determined through surveillance, and an endemic area for the disease in wild deer and elk was determined (northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming).• 2001: Discovery of a positive wild mule deer was found in neighboring Kimball County, Neb., extended the endemic area into southwestern Nebraska.• 1996 to December 2002: The disease was diagnosed in farmed elk herds in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and in a farmed white-tailed deer herd in Wisconsin.• 2000 to March 2003: Chronic wasting disease has been found in wild deer in northwestern Nebraska, southern New Mexico, southwestern South Dakota, northeastern Utah, southern Wisconsin, northwestern Colorado, northern Illinois, and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.- Information taken from the California Department of Fish and Game.