By Zachary Sheldon, Upper Midwestern States Coordinator
On May 2, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Scott Walker announced a three-step plan to combat the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the state.
CWD is a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease that occurs in farmed and free-ranging members of the family Cervidae, which includes deer, elk, and moose. The disease was first detected in Wisconsin in 2002 and has been detected in the wild in 25 counties. Governor Walker’s plan will:
In addition to Wisconsin, CWD has been detected in 24 other states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is slow and progressive, and due to the CWD’s long incubation period, infected deer, elk, and moose may not exhibit any visible symptoms for years after they have been infected.
As it currently stands, the only way to conclusively identify the presence of CWD within an animal is by performing a necropsy. With no known treatments or vaccines available, CWD has proven fatal in all documented cases.
Funding for adequate surveillance and detection of this disease is limited, and often requires already financially burdened state fish and wildlife agencies to divert funds from other programs. To help alleviate this burden, bipartisan bills have been introduced in the US House of Representatives and the Senate by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus members. The bills (H.R. 4454 and S. 2252) aim to appropriate upwards of $35 million to support state efforts to manage and control CWD. Through multi-agency cooperation between federal land management agencies and state and tribal agencies, the bills look to federally fund applied research that will aid with combatting CWD, while allowing for states to retain policy-making authority.
To stay on top of this important legislation and other federal bills impacting hunters and anglers, please subscribe to The Sportsmen’s Voice.
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?