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Bi-Partisan CWD Bill Passes House 393 to 33

Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act would direct funding to fight disease that's always fatal for deer, moose, elk.

Bi-Partisan CWD Bill Passes House 393 to 33

A CWD elk-head deposit bin in Wyoming. (Shutterstock image)

A bipartisan bill that would authorize $70 million annually to fight the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, elk and moose was passed by the House of Representatives this week.

The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (H.R. 5608) overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 393 to 33. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA), was unanimously passed by the House Agriculture Committee on Oct. 19, and if made law would significantly ratchet up CWD support at the federal level.

"This bill authorizes $70 million annually for [fiscal years 2022-28] for research and management of chronic wasting disease, with the money to be split evenly between research and management, administered by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)," The House Agriculture Committee said in a news release.

CWD is a contagious neurological disease found in cervids (deer, elk, moose) that is always fatal. It was first recognized in Colorado in the late 1960s in captive mule deer, and since has been discovered 25 states and three Canadian provinces.

The bill has been well-received by conservation and hunting organizations since its introduction.

"The NDA [National Deer Association] is incredibly thankful for the hard work and dedication of Reps. Ron Kind and GT Thompson in writing and introducing comprehensive CWD legislation that will support state and federal research and management of the disease," Torin Miller, the NDA’s Director of Policy, said in a news release. "CWD is the biggest threat to deer and deer hunting we’ve encountered, and Reps. Kind and Thompson fully recognize that threat and the need to combat it."

The USDA will administer the funds through cooperative agreements. The bill also includes authorization for USDA and state and tribal agencies to develop educational materials to inform the public on CWD, and directs USDA to review its herd certification program (HCP) within 18 months of the bill’s passage, the NDA said in the news release.

"The NDA is dedicated to ensuring the future of wild deer, wildlife habitat and hunting," the organization said. "The NDA outlines deer diseases as a critical focus area and slowing the spread of CWD is of primary concern. CWD is one of the largest threats to wildlife conservation that we have encountered over the last century. Through our extensive work on this issue across North America, we know that proactive research and monitoring is critically important to the management of the disease and wild deer herds. Undoubtedly, federal leadership and coordination in research and testing efforts is necessary."

Boone and Crockett Club President James F. Arnold said the bill’s passage addresses a "critical need."

“Chronic wasting disease threatens our country’s native deer species, as well as the role of deer hunting in our outdoor heritage. We appreciate the ongoing leadership of Reps. Kind and Thompson in addressing this critical need," Arnold said in a Boone and Crockett news release. "This bill will get wildlife managers and researchers the resources they need to continue the fight against CWD. We at the Boone and Crockett Club thank members of the U.S. House of Representatives for taking action to protect our native deer species.”

The bill now goes on to the U.S. Senate. If it passes there it will go to President Joe Biden for his signature.

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