April 28, 2022
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies strongly supports introduction of the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (S.4111), which will authorize historic funding to combat Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Today, Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and John Hoeven (R-ND), along with 7 additional bipartisan cosponsors, introduced companion legislation to the House-passed version of the bill (HR 5608). If enacted, the bill would authorize up to $70 million annually to fund vital research into CWD and support management actions carried out by state and tribal wildlife agencies and their partners.
“This legislation could be the turning point in the fight against CWD,” said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “State agencies are devoting all the resources they can to address CWD, and Congress needs to make significant investments in on-the-ground management and control efforts. We thank Senators Heinrich and Hoeven for their leadership on this critical issue and ask the Senate to pass this bill without delay.”
“CWD is an unprecedented threat to wildlife and our system of conservation,” said Paul Johansen, Wildlife Resources Section Chief for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and Chair of the Association’s Fish & Wildlife Health Committee. “The overwhelming challenges to manage this disease are unlike anything I’ve witnessed in almost 40 years of service to the citizens of West Virginia. With CWD detected in three new states in just the last six months, the resources authorized by this bill are needed now more than ever.”
The bill mirrors its companion legislation, HR 5608, sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI-3) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA-15). After moving quickly through the House Committee on Agriculture via voice vote, HR 5608 was approved by the full House with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of 393-33.
“State fish and wildlife agencies have been shouldering the majority of the costs associated with managing CWD for far too long, and we are encouraged to see Congress finally giving this pressing threat the attention it deserves,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director for the Association. “We are deeply grateful to Representatives Kind and Thompson for championing this legislation in the House and thank the almost 400 members who recognized the vital need for these resources.”
With the full authorized appropriation, the bill would provide $35 million for research into CWD transmission, resistance, and diagnosis, as well as $35 million to fund management and control efforts. Critically, 75% of management funds would be set aside for state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies. In addition, the bill directs a review of the herd certification program, which has proven insufficient to prevent outbreaks of CWD originating in farmed deer populations from spreading to wild deer.
The Association once again thanks the sponsors and supporters of the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act and urges the Senate to pass the bill as-is and without delay.
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.