Marnee Banks

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posted in: CWD

February 4, 2019

TRCP Backs Bill to Help Combat Chronic Wasting Disease

U.S. Representatives Ralph Abraham and Marc Veasey introduce bill in new Congress to help protect hunting economy.

U.S. Representatives Ralph Abraham (R-La.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas) are introducing legislation to help combat the spread of chronic wasting disease among deer, elk, and moose populations across the United States.

The bill directs the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior to study how chronic wasting disease (CWD) is transmitted, how quickly it spreads among a given population, and how easily it infects individual animals. With CWD now present in 26 states, this legislation will provide critical information to guide future wildlife management decisions.

“Chronic wasting disease threatens America’s hunting tradition and our nation’s model for funding conservation,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This legislation will provide solid scientific data so we can attack this disease head-on and protect deer herds across our nation. We want to thank Representatives Abraham and Veasey for their leadership and look forward to advancing this bill in the new Congress.”

In 2018, TRCP and National Deer Alliance rallied more than 1,000 hunters to call both for updates to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s standards for responding to CWD outbreaks in captive herds and for the Department to take meaningful steps to curb the spread of the disease. The TRCP also joined 29 conservation groups in asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to allow the hunting public more time to comment on its proposed CWD program standards.

Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks.

 

Photo courtesy of Bill Sincavage.

3 Responses to “TRCP Backs Bill to Help Combat Chronic Wasting Disease”

  1. Swayne Huffman

    As an avid outdoorsman in Tennessee and our state finding CWD in two counties that i actively hunt, I have been reading a lot obout CWD and how states have reacted to slowing the spread of the disease. My hope is that we learn from the mistakes of these past states and we slow down and learn as much as we can about this disease before we do what states like Iowa did in quarantining private lands and destroying the deer herds there to find out later that that act had little impact on the spread of the disease. The amount of uninfected animals that were killed and wasted was astonishing. What a waste. My hope is that CWD DOESN’T TURN IN TO A POLITICAL DISEASE. For some to promote their alternate agendas. We owe it to our deer.

  2. scott schaeffer

    Illinois, and their efforts to manage, monitor and control CWD is good place to refer to. Unfortunately, and as has been illustrated and described in detail, clinical sign(s) of infection do not become visible until the very end; therefore, it’s impossible to dissect infected animal(s) from the herd in the field. Deer that are removed from known infected areas could be called ” soon to be infected” individuals, and for now, their removal contributes to slowing the spread. Distasteful, yes, but necessary in the long term.

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Isaac Leuthold

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posted in: CWD

February 1, 2019

25 States Took Additional Steps to Fight Chronic Wasting Disease in the Past Year

It’s up to hunters to comply with new regulations on moving deer carcasses and using mineral lures—but it’s worth it to stop the spread of CWD

The Boone & Crockett Club, North America’s oldest wildlife and habitat conservation organization founded by Theodore Roosevelt himself, recently made a bold recommendation to end all human-assisted live transport of deer and elk. Based on the most recent science, B&C said this is absolutely necessary to prevent unknowingly relocating animals infected with chronic wasting disease. Without a practical test for CWD in live animals, the risk is just too great, especially when you consider the rapid spread of the disease in recent years.

CWD has made headline news in the past 12 months—either because the disease has spread or because new regulations are being rolled out to slow the epidemic. We recently counted seven states where chronic wasting disease has deepened its grip since the fall 2018 opener. And we collected news stories from 25 states in the past year that have asked hunters or deer farms to follow new rules meant to control the disease.

Here’s what this means for your hunting.


You May Not Be Able to Bring Deer Carcasses Across State Lines

The recent wave of enhanced regulations leaves only a few states without some kind of official ban on transporting deer carcasses. If moving live deer and elk is too great a risk, many hunters probably recognize that we move just as many dead deer before testing them for CWD.

As a result, 16 states have made recent changes to prevent hunters from bringing home parts of deer harvested in CWD-positive states—or anywhere outside state lines. For a full look at import bans across the country see the map below.

 

For example, in Oklahoma, where hunters contribute $680 million annually to the state’s economy, the Department of Wildlife has proposed new rules dealing with the import, transportation, or possession of deer carcasses and live deer. The state is surrounded by CWD-positive areas in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

The Carolinas now have strict guidelines on which parts of deer, moose, and elk can be brought home. Their neighbor Tennessee discovered its first CWD-positive deer in 2018.

And Kentucky recently expanded its ban on deer imports to include all U.S. states—regardless of whether CWD has been detected there. Policies like this often link strongly to two factors: the long “incubation” period of the disease and the general lack of research on all the ways it spreads.

At issue are the “high-risk” parts of the deer, which house the animal’s central nervous system. This is where CWD prions would be highly concentrated. Some states, like Kansas, have opted to educate hunters and urge them not to transport anything but deboned meat, cleaned skulls, finished taxidermy, or tanned hides—but stop short of regulating the practice.

Now it’s on sportsmen and women to step up on our own.

CWD Testing May Not Be Optional

Hunters voluntarily submitting deer samples has been the backbone of many CWD surveillance efforts for years. The disease has become such a concern, though, that some states have implemented mandatory testing in vulnerable or infected areas. In designated areas, hunters are required to submit a high-risk part, like the lymph nodes, for testing by the state wildlife agency.

This is part of what Indiana is preparing to do in the event that CWD spreads from either Illinois or Michigan. Mandatory testing and culling deer in infected areas are key parts of the state’s CWD response plan. But those measures, especially mass culling, comes with a steep price: The economic impact of lost hunting opportunities is a major concern for the state’s $15.7-billion outdoor recreation industry.

With wildlife managers still gathering samples in Tennessee’s new outbreak area, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has expanded its surveillance efforts. More harvested deer are being sampled and tested in counties bordering Mississippi and Tenn, but there have been no positive cases of CWD in Alabama, so far.

Deer Farms Will Be Under Increased Scrutiny

Deer farm restrictions are being considered by more states as the managers of our wild herds work to keep the captive deer industry accountable. Minnesota, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin all took up proposals or instituted new restrictions on captive deer farms in 2018.

In Minnesota, legislation has been proposed that would increase the containment requirements for captive deer farms. They are likely looking at neighboring Wisconsin, a stronghold for both the disease and the deer farming industry, and hoping to avoid the same fate.

Expect Broad Changes in the Coming Years

After the year CWD has had, sportsmen and women should expect that this disease will change the way we hunt. But there’s still time to adapt to relatively small concessions—whether it’s mandatory testing, restrictions on certain lures, or extra time in the woods to prepare your harvested animal for safe transport—to help control this epidemic.

The stakes are high, and how we respond could mean the difference between carrying on our deer hunting traditions and watching the decline of our wild deer herds.

 

Top photo by Michigan DNR via flickr

Isaac Leuthold

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posted in: CWD

January 18, 2019

Seven States Where Chronic Wasting Disease Has Spread Since the Fall Opener

With most of the season’s testing done, it’s clear that the rapid spread of CWD continues 

It may be caused by a mutated protein, but the spread of chronic wasting disease is on the verge of “going viral.” After it was first identified in 1967, the always-fatal deer disease remained isolated to a core region between Colorado and Wyoming for decades. But starting in the early 2000s, CWD began popping up across the country.

Now, it’s spreading faster than ever before. We counted 12 U.S. states that have made news since the end of the 2018 fall hunting season for either finding the disease in formerly CWD-free zones or for implementing new solutions to keep the epidemic out. And 25 states total have had confirmed cases—that’s nearly twice as many as ten years ago.

Fortunately, many hunters and wildlife managers are taking CWD challenges seriously, but states need support to tackle this disease without delay. Here are seven places where CWD is gaining ground.

Tennessee

CWD First Detected: December 2018
Recently Spread to: Fayette and Hardeman Counties

CWD has been found for the first time in the Volunteer State. The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission is implementing an emergency action plan after at least 13 cases of chronic wasting disease were discovered in deer as of late December. A special hunting season in three high-risk counties, which border CWD-positive areas discovered recently in Mississippi, is ongoing through the end of January.

Mississippi

CWD First Detected: February 2018
Recently Spread to: Marshall and Pontotoc Counties

Previously confined to the west-central region of the state, CWD surfaced this year in two northern counties of Mississippi. The infected area covers a large portion of the Holly Springs National Forest.

Arkansas

CWD First Detected: Oct 2015
Recently Spread to: Scott County

CWD was first detected in Arkansas three years ago, and it seems that the disease continues to push south. It is likely only a matter of time until neighboring Louisiana is faced with CWD on both its northern border with Arkansas and eastern border with Mississippi.

Map courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey
Missouri

CWD First Detected: Feb 2010
Recently Spread to: Stone County

A yearling buck harvested on opening weekend of firearm season tested positive for CWD in November 2018, marking fresh territory for the disease in the far southwest corner of Missouri. There were 11 confirmed cases this past hunting season, bringing the state’s all-time total up to 86 deer. Now that CWD is scattered throughout the state, wildlife managers face the especially difficult task of containing the spread.

North Dakota

CWD First Detected: Mar 2010
Recently Spread to: Unit 3A1

The Roughrider State saw CWD break new ground in a northwestern hunting unit, after having been confined to the opposite end of North Dakota for many years. Unfortunately, the expansion is not much of a surprise, according to experts. Neighboring Minnesota and Saskatchewan have CWD-positive zones that are too close for comfort. This will not be an isolated event.

Minnesota

CWD First Detected: Aug 2002
Recently Spread to: Houston County

Just one day after Minnesota announced it would step up its CWD response, a deer tested positive outside the known outbreak zone. The buck was harvested 31 miles from the epicenter of the state’s largest CWD zone (for wild deer) and 25 miles from the closest known CWD case.

Nebraska

First Detected: Jul 1999
Recently Spread to: Valley County and Keya Paha County

The Cornhusker State looks destined to join Wyoming as an area blanketed with CWD. Nebraska added multiple counties to the CWD-positive list this year—around half the state has confirmed cases of the disease.

 

Top photo by Ravi Pinisetti via Unsplash

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: CWD

November 21, 2018

We Make Time for the Outdoors, So Why Not for Conservation?

The TRCP is joining forces with REI to urge you to #OptOutside on Black Friday—and get more involved every day in the conservation issues that matter

As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we’re proud to link arms once again with our friends at REI—and hundreds of global brands—to urge hunters and anglers to #OptOutside.

This year’s theme is about breaking our routines and finding time to spend in the outdoors. And this resonates with many of us, even if, as hunters and anglers, we probably go outside more than the average American. No matter how many days you log in the woods or on the water, don’t you feel the tug of your smartphone screen or the ping of a busy schedule?

This is a troubling factor in the decline of hunter participation overall, and certainly one that we need to reckon with to ensure the future of our traditions.

It never hurts to slow down, shut our devices off, and head down the trail to where true adventure is within our reach—even if we may be unreachable for a few hours. But making time to enjoy the outdoors (and derive the cortisol-lowering benefits of testing ourselves in the pursuit of game and fish) is only meeting half the need.

It’s also critical that we prioritize taking action to safeguard our outdoor recreation opportunities for the next generation.

Photo by @brettmlynar

Engaging in the fight for well-managed public lands, cleaner water, better habitat, more funding for conservation, and stronger outdoor recreation businesses looks different for everyone. You might donate to an organization you trust. (After all, Giving Tuesday is coming up—hint hint.) You might sign a petition, attend a workday, or share an article on social media that taught you something about conservation, hoping others will learn from it, too.

But how many times has something like this happened: You get an email about an upcoming meeting hosted by your local BLM field office to collect public comments on a proposed plan for managing public lands in your area. As someone who cares about the fish and wildlife resources and hunting and fishing opportunities on these lands, the stakes are pretty high for you, and your opinion carries a lot of weight in this public process. But the meeting is on a weekday night and you’re not sure you understand all the issues. You delete the email.

Or this: You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and see a call to action about the lapsed Farm Bill. A conservation organization you trust says that we lose out every day we go without the programs that help farmers improve habitat and walk-in access for hunting and fishing, and it’s imperative that we pressure Congress to take urgent action. You click the link in their bio, but then a stream of text messages come in that you need to respond to, and before you know it, you’re late to drop the kids off somewhere.

Getting more involved in conservation isn’t always convenient, especially when it’s all we can do to carve out time to actually use our hunting and fishing licenses or the access we worked hard to secure with a landowner’s permission. Still, the routine we may need to break is the one where we tell ourselves, “I’ll do it later,” “This is not my fight,” or worse, “Someone else will do it.”

It’s up to all of us to find the time and energy to dedicate ourselves to the conservation issues that will determine whether or not our children and grandchildren have quality places to hunt and fish. We must sign up, step up, and speak out for more responsible management of public lands, stronger habitat and access incentives for private landowners, and the best possible clean water standards and conservation funding levels.

As REI reminds us, #OptOutside is about more than a company making a bold move on Black Friday. It’s about inspiring a movement.

So find the time. Stretch your legs and your mind. Replenish your soul in the outdoors. Then, when you finally head back to your screens and social networks, do whatever you can, whenever you can, to support conservation.

Need more inspiration? Watch our Wake the Woods video now.

 

Top photo by Dusan Smetana.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: CWD

November 15, 2018

Senate Bill Would Boost CWD Research and Testing

Combined with a companion bill in the House, this legislative effort would also provide resources to state agencies facing a looming crisis for wild deer and elk herds

Just days into the lame duck session, Sens. John Barrasso, Doug Jones, and Michael Bennet have introduced legislation to ramp up on research and testing for chronic wasting disease in deer, elk, and other cervids. Combined with a companion bill previously introduced in the House by Rep. Ralph Lee Abraham, the aim of the bill would be to understand as much as possible about this always-fatal disease and implement research findings as a critical component of a nationwide response to CWD.

“Chronic wasting disease has negatively affected white-tailed and mule deer in Wyoming for decades,” says Sen. Barrasso. “To protect our wildlife populations and our hunters, we need to know more about how this disease is spread and which areas are most at risk. Our bill gives wildlife managers the tools they need to research and identify exactly where chronic wasting disease is most prominent and how we can better prevent it. It’s a critical first step to addressing this debilitating disease and keeping our wildlife herds healthy.”

“Passing legislation to ultimately help curb the spread of chronic wasting disease is one of our top priorities for the remaining weeks of this Congress,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Misinformation about CWD and how we should deal with it as a hunting community is almost as rampant as the disease itself, and we need definitive research to chart an ambitious path toward recovery. In the meantime, sportsmen and women are prepared to do our part, and that includes advocating for necessary funding and demanding updates to management practices that have failed our wild deer and elk herds in the past.”

The bill directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on how CWD is transmitted in wild, captive, and farmed deer in the United States. The goal would be to identify all factors that contribute to the spread of the disease and hone in on where deeper research is needed. The bill also calls for a review of the best practices and standards for managing CWD in both captive and wild deer, to result in a report of findings and recommendations.

“We strongly support this important legislation, which, if passed, would aid to combat a serious wildlife health issue,” says Ed Carter, president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Chronic wasting disease may be one of the biggest challenges in modern wildlife conservation history, and it will take funding for the best possible science, and many other efforts, to respond swiftly and appropriately.”

The rampant spread of CWD could have a major impact on the future of deer hunting and funding for wildlife habitat conservation. More than 80 percent of the hunting public participates in deer hunting and contributes more money to conservation funding than any other type of outdoor enthusiast through the purchase of licenses and gear.

“We applaud the sponsors of this bill for recognizing that CWD is the most significant wildlife disease issue in more than 100 years,” says Brian Murphy, CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association. “It is an imminent threat to our wild deer herds, which help generate $39.5 billion in economic impact from hunters annually, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and serving as the backbone for conservation funding in the United States. These deer also, quite literally, provide nearly one billion wholesome meals to Americans each year. The spread of this disease must be stopped.”

Currently, testing for CWD can take time because of the limited number of laboratory facilities across the country, and there are significant cumulative costs for state fish and wildlife agencies. The Center for Disease Control does not recommend eating venison from CWD-positive deer.

“Clearly a concern about deer being safe to eat has a negative impact on new hunter recruitment, as well as the retention of existing deer hunters,” says Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of the National Deer Alliance. “Many new deer hunters became attracted to the sport due to a desire to collect their own safe and organic food, and now that premise is being threatened by this horrible disease. This important bill will help get us the answers we need.”

For more information on chronic wasting disease, click here.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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