The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act moved swiftly through the House last fall and hunters have urged the Senate to pass its version without delay
In an important step forward for chronic wasting disease solutions today, Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced legislation to address a host of state and federal needs in the fight to contain CWD, which is a serious threat to the future of deer hunting in the U.S.
The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act calls for an annual $70-million investment through fiscal year 2028 split between CWD management and research priorities.
“For years, hunters have been calling for a comprehensive legislative solution to help combat the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease, which threatens the very future of wild deer and deer hunting in America—this bill addresses multiple facets of this complex problem,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We were thrilled to see it move so quickly through the House this fall and we’re proud to see the bipartisan support this legislation already has in the Senate. Sportsmen and sportswomen look forward to working with lawmakers to see it through to the finish line, so we can support states in their ongoing response to CWD, while conducting research that will lead to better long-term solutions.”
Introduction, debate, and floor passage of the House version all occurred between October and December of last year. Since that time, hunters have been calling on senators to step up and act swiftly to send legislation to the president’s desk.
In both bills, $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
Another $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
The bill 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.
Other Senators supporting the bill include Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Learn more about chronic wasting disease and what’s at stake for wild deer and deer hunting here.
Top photo courtesy of Russell Wooldridge / Maryland DNR via Flickr.