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Bill will help stop spread of chronic wasting disease in deer, elk, and moose

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) was joined by Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to increase wildlife managers’ ability to keep wildlife healthy.

The bill authorizes a special resource study to determine how chronic wasting disease (CWD) spreads and could be prevented in deer and elk. CWD can affect both wild and domestic herds of deer and elk in 26 states and several Canadian provinces. However, state recommendations for preventing the spread of the disease vary.

When completed, the study would give state wildlife agencies and wildlife experts information to conduct targeted research on how the disease is transmitted, determine which areas are most at risk, and develop consistent advice for hunters to prevent further spread.

“Wyoming’s deer, elk and moose populations have been negatively impacted by chronic wasting disease for decades,” said Barrasso. “Now, 26 states have detected chronic wasting disease and new cases arise each day. We need to know more about how this disease spreads 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.”

“The spread of chronic wasting disease among the deer population threatens our local economies and, for many, a way of life that has long valued a tradition of hunting and conservation,” said Jones. “As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, I am deeply concerned about the impact of CWD on our wildlife population across the country and on the boost that deer hunting brings to Alabama’s economy. Thankfully, we have not yet seen cases in Alabama, but it has been found in our neighboring states. Our bipartisan legislation would help us better understand this disease and give local wildlife managers better tools to prevent its spread.”

“Transmission of CWD among deer and elk herds is a critical issue, threatening parts of Colorado’s outdoor economy and way of life,” said Bennet. “This bill would provide state wildlife professionals with the information they need to standardize their work, improve CWD management, and prevent further spread across the country.”

Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Boozman (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) cosponsored the legislation.

Representative Ralph Abraham (R-LA-05) introduced the bipartisan companion bill in the House of Representatives.

Groups that support the bill include: Association for Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Muley Fanatics Foundation, Boone and Crockett Club, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, The Wildlife Society, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and others.

The Chronic Wasting Disease Transmission in Cervidae Study Act addresses the needs identified by state agencies through the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). The bill requires the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior secretaries to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies of Sciences to review current data and best management practices (BMPs) from federal and state agencies regarding:

1. Pathways and mechanisms for CWD transmission
2. Areas at risk and geographical patterns of CWD transmission
3. Gaps in current scientific knowledge regarding transmission to prioritize research to address gaps