Swift passage of this bipartisan bill reflects the critical need for more resources to study and stop the spread of chronic wasting disease
In a 393-33 vote this evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Chronic Wasting Disease Management and Research Act, which would expand the federal government’s role in the fight to control a fatal wildlife disease that threatens the future of deer hunting in America. The bill was introduced by Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) in October 2021 and was quickly passed out of committee.
“This swift bipartisan passage of the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act reflects the incredible need for resources to study and stop the spread of the disease on behalf of our wild deer herds and hunting opportunities,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This legislation has the federal government stepping up its responsibility for addressing CWD, giving state agency staff more support, focusing the scope of much-needed research, and educating the full spectrum of stakeholders—from hunters to the captive cervid industry—so that we are all accountable for advancing CWD solutions.”
The legislation calls for an annual $70-million investment through fiscal year 2028 on an even split of CWD management and research priorities. It also includes authorization for federal, state, and Tribal agencies to develop educational materials to inform the public on CWD and directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review its Herd Certification Program, which accredits captive operations as “low-risk” for CWD contamination but has proven inadequate to stem the spread of the disease.
$35 million per year for research would focus on:
- Methods to effectively detect CWD in live and harvested deer and the surrounding environment
- Best practices for reducing CWD occurrence through sustainable harvest of deer and other cervids
- Factors contributing to spread of the disease locally, such as animal movement and scavenging
$35 million per year for management, including surveillance and testing, would prioritize:
- Areas with the highest incidence of CWD
- Areas responding to new outbreaks of CWD
- Areas without CWD that show the greatest risk of CWD emerging
- Jurisdictions demonstrating the greatest financial commitment to managing, monitoring, surveying, and researching CWD
- Efforts to develop comprehensive policies and programs focused on CWD management
As a next step, the TRCP and its partners are working with lawmakers to secure the introduction of a companion bill in the Senate.
Feature image courtesy of the National Deer Association