Why it matters: Chronic wasting disease is a progressive, always fatal, degenerative neurological disease occurring in both farmed and free-ranging deer, elk, and moose (cervids) populations. Roughly 80% of hunters in the United States participate in some form of deer, elk, or moose hunting, and as such, it is critical that we stop the spread of CWD and ultimately reduce its presence on the landscape. Unfortunately, due to the lack of information surrounding CWD, this is a difficult task for our nation’s federal, state, and tribal wildlife managers. The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act seeks to address to this informational void.
On October 19, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (H.R. 5608) was introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Reps. Ron Kind (WI) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA). Two days after the introduction of the bill, the House Agriculture Committee voted to pass the bill unanimously – a sign of the strong bipartisan support for this important legislation.
Since the beginning of the 117th Congress, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has coordinated with the offices of Reps. Kind and Thompson to develop this comprehensive legislation, and on Wednesday, CSF sent an alert to the CSC Members on the House Agriculture Committee encouraging their support.
One of the most significant issues that continues to challenge our nation’s wildlife managers is simply lack of information regarding CWD. Although evidence suggests CWD is transmitted directly from one animal to another through bodily fluids and tissues, the exact transmission mechanism remains unclear. Compounding these challenges is the fact that visible symptoms of this disease may not be present for several years after infection due to CWD’s slow, and progressive nature.
H.R. 5608 brings together all interested stakeholders to help combat CWD by authorizing $70 million annually from Fiscal Year 2022 to Fiscal Year 2028 to be split evenly between CWD research and management efforts. Specifically, the bill will provide $35 million annually for CWD research to develop testing methods, enhance detection efforts, better understand genetic resistance, among others. This bill will also provide $35 million for the management of CWD by prioritizing funding for state and tribal wildlife agencies that have the highest incidence of CWD, are demonstrating the most significant commitments to combatting CWD, are facing the greatest risk of new CWD cases, and more.
CSF will continue to work with our Congressional CWD champions, Representatives Kind and Thompson, to expeditiously advance this bill, and thanks them for their leadership on this critical issue.
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?