posted in: Highlights

July 7, 2023

Five Takeaways from the 4th International Chronic Wasting Disease Conference

Because of the threat CWD presents to deer hunting, TRCP sponsored and attended the 4th International Chronic Wasting Disease Conference to discuss cutting edge science, share management successes, and learn from failures.

As most hunters are aware, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal disease spread by misfolded proteins called “prions” that affects elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. First detected in Colorado in 1967, CWD has spread to at least 32 states, including two new states (Oklahoma and Florida) in the past month! CWD has major repercussions for herd health, and there is precedence for other diseases of this type crossing the “species barrier” and affecting humans.  Because of the threat CWD presents to deer hunting, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) sponsored and attended the 4th International Chronic Wasting Disease Conference in Denver, CO from May 31 – June 2, 2023.  The conference brought together leading researchers, federal and state agency personnel, NGO, and industry representatives to discuss cutting edge science, share management successes, and learn from failures.

It would be impossible to fully describe several days of scientific presentations and panel discussions in the space we have here, so here are my Top 5 Takeaways from the 4th International Chronic Wasting Disease Conference. 

Hunters are the Key.

When it comes to CWD management, hunters must be a big part of the solution. When state or Tribal agencies use the best available science to create a CWD strategy, hunters must step up and help implement that strategy.

A key component of CWD management is simply promoting overall herd health. In many parts of the country, that requires reducing herd numbers and densities to sustainable levels. Not only can this help grow big, healthy bucks, but it also means hunters get to take more does. I don’t know about you, but any chance I get to solve a problem by hunting more is a chance I’m going to take. 

At a minimum, hunters should follow CWD regulations, including being sure not to move deer or elk heads and spines from CWD affected areas. We also should not spread information about CWD without verifying its accuracy. 


When agencies no longer consider hunters a partner in CWD management, we lose our seat at the table, and whoever replaces us is unlikely to have our interests in mind.   

Don’t Move Deer.

Too many live deer are moved around the country every day. Herd certification protocols have failed to prevent the spread of CWD among captive facilities. Testing requirements are too often ignored and when CWD is discovered in a captive herd it is sometimes ignored or covered up. If we are going to continue to allow deer and elk farming in the era of CWD, we must make sure that the industry holds up their end of the bargain. It was great to see representatives of the captive deer industry participating in this conference; let’s hope they take the next step and become part of the solution. 

Hunters must step up here as well. The best thing we can do is debone deer in the field and avoid transporting skulls, spines, and lymph nodes. 

CWD is Not Going Away.

CWD is a challenging disease, but we can manage around it.  

CWD prions can exist in the environment for years, bind to soil and plants, and spread very quickly. Multiple factors compound this challenge: CWD testing is not cheap, carcass-side tests need improvement, vaccines have not been successful, and breeding resistant animals has not made great strides (not to mention the fact that it has no applicability to wild deer). The silver bullet we have been looking for since CWD was first identified probably does not exist.  

It had been 14 years since this conference was last held, and as you might imagine, a lot of work has been done to better understand and manage CWD since 2009. There is tremendous value in getting all parties involved, including hunters, in the same place for a few days. If we want to make a dent in CWD, we need to make such gatherings happen more often. By continuing to learn more about this disease and collaborating, we can continue to put what we already know into action. That is why the TRCP worked to get the CWD Research and Management Act passed, and why we continue to work to ensure it is funded.  It’s also why we continue to advocate for hunting as a CWD management tool and continue to remind hunters that managing CWD means better hunting. 

Humans Have Not Contracted CWD.

No one wants to be patient zero. Get your deer tested and demand that your state make testing easier.  

One bright spot in the conference were the presentations reinforcing a lack of evidence for humans contracting prion disease from deer. Hunters in areas with long-term CWD currently do not show higher rates of prion disease than the general population, and even people who consumed meat from infected animals have not shown higher rates of disease. So far, the “species barrier” that prevents a CWD prion from affecting humans appears to be holding up. That is great news, but it does not mean we are out of the woods. Prion disease has spread across species, including to humans, in the past, and human prion diseases can take years or decades to become symptomatic.

The CDC still recommends that we do not consume meat from infected animals, so get your deer tested if you are hunting where CWD is prevalent. If testing is difficult or expensive in your state, make sure your elected officials know that this is important to you and to the future of deer hunting.  

We Need More Information.

If we are going to make a dent in CWD, eradicate it, or even learn to live with it, we need to keep learning more about it. Researchers across the country, and even around the world, are working to better understand how CWD spreads, what leads to the most spread, where pathways to human disease exist, and how overall herd health can be maintained. Right now, there is still a massive shortage of funding to do this type of research, creating a bottleneck between a problem and its solutions. There are also onerous requirements for researchers that prevent them from doing CWD research in the first place. 

Researchers know what is preventing them from getting answers, and the TRCP and our partners are taking that knowledge and using our policy expertise to remove roadblocks. This is how we will make sure we have the information hunters and agencies need to maintain healthy deer herds and great deer hunting. 

Learn more about Chronic Wasting Disease here.

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posted in: Highlights

June 27, 2023

TRCP Applauds U.S. Department of Agriculture Announcement for Habitat Funding  

Federal agency commits at least $500 million over five years for Working Lands for Wildlife

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its intention to direct at least $500 million over a five-year period to benefit fish and wildlife habitat on private lands across much of the nation.  

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will support America’s hardworking private landowners when they do good things for fish and wildlife,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “About 60 percent of the land base in the United States is privately owned, and these lands often represent the most productive fish and wildlife habitat—their conservation is critical.”   

The Working Lands for Wildlife model uses a landscape-level planning approach to restore and conserve wildlife habitat efficiently, over large areas. These USDA funds will be directed through this approach by utilizing the Farm Bill’s voluntary and incentive based Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to keep working lands working while conserving critical fish and wildlife habitat. At least $40 million will be dedicated to conserving migratory big game habitat through partnerships in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. 

“With today’s announcement, USDA has committed to additional funding, broader geographic scope, longer term planning, and better coordination between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency toward wildlife habitat goals,” continued Fosburgh. “All of this adds up to great news for hunters and anglers.”  



posted in: Highlights

June 9, 2023

Conservation Groups Applaud Bipartisan Bill to Invest in America’s Forests and Watersheds 

The Headwaters Protection Act would enhance partnerships that provide clean water, benefit fish and wildlife habitat. 

On Wednesday, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced the Headwaters Protection Act in an effort to invest in America’s forests and watersheds by expanding support for two U.S. Forest Service Programs created in the 2018 Farm Bill: The Water Source Protection Program (WSPP) and the Watershed Condition Framework (WCF).  

If passed, the bill would support critical public-private partnerships working to ensure our National Forests provide clean water to downstream communities, benefit agricultural water users, and protect fish and wildlife habitat important to hunters and anglers. 

“Source watersheds – the forests, meadows, and streams that supply water to cities and farms – is an integral part of the nation’s water system infrastructure,” said Alex Funk, director of water resources and senior counsel of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Headwaters Protection Act will support critical public-private partnerships that will increase the pace and scale of restoration and conservation efforts that maximize the water reliability and quality benefits of healthy source watersheds, which in turn helps support adaptation to drought and wildfire, while benefiting fish and wildlife habitat.” 

Other Senators supporting the bill include Senators Feinstein (D-Calif.), Risch (R-Idaho), Lujan (D-N.M.), Kelly (D-Ariz.), Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Heinrich (D-N.M.). 

Conservation organizations across the country, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership,  American Fly Fishing Trade Association, American Sportfishing Association, American Water Works Association, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Conservation Northwest, Family Farm Alliance, National American Grouse Partners, National Deer Association, National Wildlife Federation, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Watershed Research and Training Center, and Western Landowners Alliance have all been advocating for this effort. 

The Headwaters Protection Act would:  

  • Reauthorize the Water Source Protection Program (WSPP) and increase the authorization of appropriations for the program from $10 million per year to $30 million per year.  
  • Broaden the range of water users, including historically disadvantaged communities, who could participate in and benefit from the WSPP. 
  • Reduce financial barriers for water users to participate in the WSPP. 
  • Prioritize WSPP projects that benefit drinking water quality and improve resilience to wildfire and climate change. 
  • Make a technical change to the Watershed Condition Framework (WCF) that ensures healthy watersheds do not become degraded and authorizes $30 million in new appropriations per year.  

WSPP and WCF projects would: 

  • Conserve freshwater resources within National Forest System Lands, which supply drinking water to one in five Americans and contain much of our country’s best remaining cold-water habitat for salmon, steelhead, and trout. 
  • Complement and strengthen the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy by encouraging partnerships with water users to reduce threats to water supplies and infrastructure from wildfire and climate change. 

Additional Statements of Support 

“The Nature Conservancy in Colorado strongly supports Senators Bennet, Crapo, Feinstein, Risch, Heinrich, Lujan, Kelly, and Hickenlooper’s Headwaters Protection Act. Healthy forested watersheds provide the natural infrastructure that supplies clean water for people and communities, agriculture, hydropower, and fish and wildlife.  Many of these forested watersheds are on both public and private lands, and many are in unhealthy condition, at risk of high-severity wildfire, and in need of ecologically based restoration.  The Headwaters Protection Act reauthorizes and improves the Water Source Protection Program, a tool that can bring investments from non-federal partners to support forest health, restoration, and watershed protection projects.  This bill is a smart investment in our future,” said Carlos Fernandez, Colorado state director for The Nature Conservancy. 

“A healthy river system performs three basic functions. It catches, stores, and slowly releases water over time. Floods, fire, and drought can wreak havoc to healthy river systems. The Headwaters Protection Act would provide a pathway for collaborative stewardship so we can restore healthy rivers that provide cold, clean water for both downstream communities and trout and salmon alike. We thank Senator Bennet for his leadership and look forward to working with our partners to make this program a success on the ground,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. 


posted in: Highlights

June 7, 2023

In Alaska, A Big Plan for Big, Wild Country

The Central Yukon Resource Management Plan will guide future management of BLM lands in an area larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland combined

Later this year, the Bureau of Land Management is slated to publish a revised management plan for 13.3 million acres in Alaska’s Interior and Arctic regions. This region, known as the Central Yukon planning area, is familiar to many hunters and anglers as the home of the Dalton Highway Corridor. This unique recreation destination allows for remote, yet road accessible, hike-in and float trips, and hosts some of the most iconic big game species in Alaska—including Dall sheep, moose, and caribou—and 25 species of fish.

The Central Yukon plan has important implications for our fish and wildlife resources as it will guide landscape-level management and balance the various uses allowed on BLM lands in this region for approximately the next 20 years. That’s why the TRCP has been advocating for the priorities of hunters and anglers in the Central Yukon throughout the BLM’s multi-year planning process.

A Plan in Need of Fixing

The draft plan, published in 2020, recommended that 98 percent of all BLM-managed lands in the planning area be opened to industrial resource extraction. This recommendation is unbalanced and would result in unacceptable consequences for the sporting community and subsistence harvesters. In response, the TRCP organized comments from more than 500 supporters who urged the agency to develop a more fish and wildlife friendly preferred alternative and offered specific recommendations for improving habitat in the planning area.

As the agency moves this plan closer to completion, our team continues to leverage every opportunity to ensure that the final plan adequately reflects the values of hunters and anglers.

Priority #1: Avoid or minimize the impacts to fish, wildlife, and important habitat

The final plan should align with the BLM’s goals and objectives for managing fish and wildlife in the planning area, which include but are not limited to:

  • Provide habitat of sufficient quantity, quality, and connectivity to allow for stable populations of wildlife, in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Effectively avoid or minimize impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitat.
  • Apply mitigation measures that effectively maintain wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Under the draft plan, wildlife could be affected by mining in 100 percent of the planning area—as opposed to 52 percent under the existing plan—since all lands would be open to locatable mineral entry. The agency’s own analysis acknowledges that the preferred alternative would adversely impact high-value fish habitat, increase the loss of important habitat for Dall sheep, and could result in caribou population declines. The final plan should strike a better balance between habitat conservation and responsible resource development.

Recommended action: Adopt Dall Habitat Areas, Dall Sheep Movement Corridors and Dall Sheep Study Area. Include additional conservation measures for sheep, such as restrictions on development activities within 0.5 miles of mineral licks.

Recommended action: Adopt Core Caribou Habitat Areas. Include additional safeguards for caribou, such as restrictions on OHV use and other surface-disturbing activities during calving periods.

Recommended action: Adopt Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) and Research Natural Areas (RNAs) as proposed in Alternative B. Of the 31 ACECs under consideration, six are proposed to protect Dall sheep habitat and four are proposed offer additional safeguards to caribou.

Priority #2: Plan for Growing Recreational Demand

The revisions to the Central Yukon RMP should also support public access for hunting, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The planning area provides outstanding recreation opportunities for Alaskans and non-residents throughout the year, including sightseeing, fishing, hunting, river trips, day hikes, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and photography. Recreational demand is expected to increase along the Dalton Highway through the life of the plan.

By adopting the proposed Dalton Corridor Backcountry Conservation Area, the BLM could conserve big game habitat, provide world-class backcountry recreation experiences, and allow for traditional uses of these lands to continue.

Recommended action: Adopt the proposed Dalton Corridor Backcountry Conservation Area. This tool would specifically provide for high-quality hunting and other recreation opportunities in the outer Dalton Highway Corridor.

Priority #3: Maintain existing conservation safeguards

Finally, we recommend that the RMP retain long-standing public land orders to ensure that some lands remain withdrawn from mineral entry.

Approximately 7.4 million acres in the Central Yukon planning area—including the Dalton Highway Corridor—have been withdrawn from mineral entry since the public land orders were issued in the 1970s. Revoking the PLOs would negatively impact subsistence access for rural community residents in the planning area. Unique recreational hunting opportunities—such as the 5-mile bowhunting-only corridor along the Dalton Highway—could also be threatened if these lands are conveyed.  

Recommended action: Maintain the Dalton Highway Corridor (PLO 5150) in its entirety.

Recommended action: Maintain all ANCSA d-1 withdrawals.

Create a Conservation Success Story

Alaskan hunters and anglers, local businesses, wildlife managers, and other recreationists who enjoy these places are counting on the BLM to manage our public lands in a way that protects our investment in Alaska’s fish and wildlife, outdoor resources, and sporting heritage. Working together, we can ensure that the Central Yukon RMP revisions create the best management plan for the habitat and quality hunting and fishing areas that makes this vast region of Alaska a world-class destination. 


posted in: Highlights

June 1, 2023

Eight Things We Wish All Hunters and Anglers Knew About Climate Change 

Answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear from decision-makers, business leaders, social media users, and TRCP members.

As TRCP’s director of climate solutions, I field a lot of questions about climate change. From those who are deep in the weeds to those who are deeply skeptical, there is rampant confusion and misinformation across the spectrum.  

TRCP’s core values include transparency and being rooted in science, so speaking openly and clearly about climate change is critical to our mission. But it’s also essential to the future of hunting and fishing. You, our members, are key to the success of nature-based solutions, which will benefit the fish and wildlife we love to pursue while enhancing the ability of our soils, waters, and landscapes to slow climate change.  

Here we’ve gathered the most common questions we get—at events, in meetings, and online—about this important but divisive issue and laid out our very best answers.  

People used to talk much more about global warming, but now you only hear about climate change. Are they the same thing? 

Global warming is the overall warming of our atmospheric temperature. Climate change refers to the long-term changes to our temperature and weather patternsour climate. The term better describes what we’re experiencing on a daily basis. Yes, the average temperature of Earth’s air and seas is rising due to global warming, and because of this, sea levels are rising, season timing is shifting, droughts are longer and more expansive, migration patterns are changing, weather is less predictable, and fish and wildlife populations are declining. These impacts taken together are climate change. 

Photo: BLM

Don’t temperatures naturally fluctuate? What about the Ice Age? 

Of course, global temperatures have changed in the past. These fluctuations are well documented in geological records—ocean sediment, ice cores, sedimentary rocks, tree rings, and coral reefs—and occurred very slowly over thousands or millions of years. Recent evidence shows that, unlike the incremental shift in temperatures over millennia, the current global average surface temperature has risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit or 1.1 degrees Celsius in just the past 150 years. This is roughly 10 times faster than the ice-age recovery warming on average.  

More alarmingly, the rate of temperature change has more than doubled since 1981We know this isn’t just a changing climate as we’ve seen in the past, but human-driven climate change.  

Weather has always been variable, so how do we know that climate change is influencing weather events?

Weather describes the conditions that we experience day-to-day. The weather and temperatures we experience locally fluctuate over short periods and have usually been predictable based on seasons. Climate describes the patterns and trends that we observe over a longer period. However, weather and climate are interdependentas our global climate changes, we’ll continue to experience increasingly variable weather locally. Our new normal is already punctuated by more heatwaves, drought, catastrophic wildfires, and frequent thousand-year storms. 

If forest fires are naturally occurring, how does climate change cause them too?

Climate change increases the likelihood and severity of forest fires by creating conditions that make them more likely to start and spread quickly, including drier soils and vegetation, invasive plant species that are more fire-prone, and the increased frequency and severity of lightning strikes and extreme weather events.  

Photo: USDA

What does climate change even look like? What impacts will the next generations witness?  

We know climate change is affecting our opportunities to hunt and fish right now. Depending on where you are, drought and reduced rain and snowfall has lowered the water level in rivers, lakes, and streams. Many rivers in the West are now regularly closed to fishing as water temperatures reach a point where fish are in distress. Those same high-water temperatures are causing fish populations to decline, inviting toxic algal blooms, and forcing fish to migrate to cooler areas. Land-based migration is also changing with rising temperatures, increasingly frequent natural disasters, and variable weather patterns, often causing wildlife to move out of traditional ranges and display unexpected behavior, like early wakeup or bugling late into the season.  

These impacts will only intensify for the next generation of hunters and anglers. 

Photo: Nicholas Aumen, USGS

Humans have made mistakes when it comes to shaping our lands and waters in the past. Shouldn’t we just leave nature alone to right itself?  

It’s important to recognize that nature is impacted by us, both positively and negatively, whether intentionally or not. Centuries of our giving to and taking from the land have already altered the landscape and the process of undisturbed nature. As a threat multiplier, climate change is bringing more frequent and intense weather events and exacerbating existing declines in fish and wildlife populations, leaving our lands and waters less resilient to future changes and impacts. Human action is necessary—there is no turning back. 

Will taking climate action reduce my ability to hunt and fish?

Hunters and anglers are longstanding conservationists, who take responsibility for maintaining and restoring habitats for the good of all. Our work to support wildlife and their habitat is crucial to maintaining the future of hunting and fishing as climate change impacts continue to evolve. And many of the solutions we already want and need to maintain our ability to hunt and fish can actually help to slow climate change. Learn how this is possible here. 

Photo: Kegen Benson, BLM

With a global challenge as immense and existential as climate change, how can hunters and anglers hope to have any impact? 

Change is possible—we see it every day. Hunters and anglers have pushed for and secured meaningful solutions to habitat challenges of every size and scope, from the days of the Lacey Act to the widely celebrated legislative victories and conservation investments of recent years. You can make a difference for habitat and our climate by standing with us when it comes to nature-based solutions. Take action here to make lawmakers aware of the climate benefits of restoring fish and wildlife habitat.  



Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

$4 from each bag is donated to the TRCP, to help continue their efforts of safeguarding critical habitats, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations.

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