Virginia: CSF Participates in Agency Advisory Group Meeting

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

On November 11, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (DGIF) Agency Advisory Group (AAG) convened in Richmond to discuss wildlife conservation issues in the Commonwealth.

Attended by representatives from national and in-state sportsmen’s groups, the AAG meeting provided a forum for Virginia’s hunting and fishing community to interact with and provide input to the DGIF. Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Southeastern States Assistant Director John Culclasure was also in attendance. This was the first meeting of the AAG under the leadership of Executive Director Ryan Brown who was appointed earlier this year.

State wildlife veterinarian Dr. Megan Kirchgessner gave a presentation on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a contagious, always-fatal disease in cervids with no known cure or vaccine. The presentation covered the history of CWD in Virginia since it was detected in the state in 2009 and policy measures the DGIF has taken to prevent further spread of the disease.

CWD is a major concern for the sportsmen’s community because it has the potential to discourage participation in hunting and negatively impact conservation funding. White-tailed deer is the most popular species hunted in the Commonwealth, and last year alone, Virginia’s sportsmen and women contributed $77.31 million to conservation funding generated through the “user-pays, public-benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.

Attendees also enjoyed time for networking, and participated in group discussions about effective ways to educate the public about CWD and additional measures the agency may consider to protect the state’s deer herd. This year the DGIF strengthened its carcass import rules.   

CWD has been detected in 26 states, and Congress has recently increased its focus on ways to combat CWD.

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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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