Why it matters: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is one of the most challenging issues facing wildlife managers today. CWD is a progressive, always fatal, degenerative, neurological disease occurring in both farmed and free-ranging deer, elk, and moose (cervids) populations. Furthermore, given the lack of information surrounding CWD, preventing the spread of CWD is a difficult task for our nation’s fish and wildlife managers. H.R. 5608 not only seeks to reduce CWD information gaps, but also seeks to provide our federal, state, and tribal wildlife managers with much needed financial resources to be better manage CWD.
On January 21, CSF and 29 of the nation’s leading sporting-conservation organizations sent a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to request that the Committee take up and pass H.R. 5608, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act.
Introduced in October by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members Reps. Ron Kind (WI) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PN), H.R. 5608 marks the first time that all interested CWD stakeholders, including hunting conservation groups, wildlife science professionals, and others, have collectively supported a single legislative effort to combat CWD. Thanks to the leadership of Reps. Kind and Thompson, the House of Representatives passed the bill in early December on a strong bipartisan vote on 393-33, marking a significant step forward in our efforts to address CWD.
To combat this pressing disease, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act will authorize $70 million annually from Fiscal Year 2022 to Fiscal Year 2028 to be split evenly between CWD research and management efforts. Of this, $35 million will be dedicated annually for CWD research to develop testing methods, enhance detection efforts, and better understand genetic resistance, among others. The remaining $35 million will be used 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.
Given the ever-increasing challenges associated with CWD and the wide-spread support for H.R. 5608, it is critical that the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee quickly move to pass the bill. CSF will continue to work with Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members on the Committee to urge swift action on the House passed bill.
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?