July 13, 2018

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Introduces Bill to Study Chronic Wasting Disease

On June 28, Congressman Ralph Abraham (LA), a Member of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), introduced H.R. 6272, the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Transmission in Cervidae Study Act.

The bill is supported by several other CSC Members who signed on as original co-sponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Natural Resources.

Since first identified in 1967, CWD has been documented in both wild and farmed cervid populations in 25 states and two Canadian provinces. With new detections of CWD in both wild populations and farmed herds, in areas that had previously been CWD-free this year, increased attention has been brought to the dearth of reliable data on CWD transmission pathways on which wildlife agencies can base their management strategies.

H.R. 6272 would address this void by requiring the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to request a study by the National Academy of Sciences. The goals of such study are multi-faceted and include: identifying pathways and mechanisms for the transmission of CWD; identifying both anthropogenic and environmental factors that contribute to its spread; identifying gaps in current scientific knowledge and prioritizing future research needs; and, reviewing current best management practices regarding the disease.

Should the National Academy of Sciences be unwilling to conduct such a study, the Secretary of Agriculture would be authorized to enter into an agreement with another appropriate research institution. A report on the findings will be due back to the relevant committees no later than six months after funds are appropriated to conduct the study.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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