Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Approves Statement on the Cause of Chronic Wasting Disease

March 12, 2019

Last week, at the 84th North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference, state directors approved a statement entitled Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Statement on Chronic Wasting Disease Etiology  during the of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies business meeting. This statement was drafted by leading experts in wildlife disease management and affirms the current scientific consensus that Chronic Wasting Disease, a 100% fatal disease of deer, elk, moose, and reindeer, is caused by a misfolded protein called a ‘prion.’

"Recent media coverage has focused on alternative theories that suggest that Chronic Wasting Disease may be caused by bacteria or other sources," said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. "We felt that until there was definitive proof otherwise, it was important that the Association go on record as supporting the overwhelming scientific consensus that Chronic Wasting Disease is caused by mutated protein known as prions."

The Association and its members have been at the forefront of Chronic Wasting Disease management for decades, having most recently written and adopted the Best Management Practices for Prevention, Surveillance, and Management of Chronic Wasting Disease which provides extensive guidance to state, federal, provincial, and territorial wildlife agencies tasked with managing this disease.

"I strongly support the statement that is being released by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies today," said Bob Duncan, Director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and chair of the Association's Fish and Wildlife Health Committee.  "Our nation's hunters deserve to have the best available scientifically credible information about this deadly disease, and to know that our state, federal, provincial, and territorial wildlife agencies are doing everything within their power to stop its spread."

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.