Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) have introduced legislation to address a host of state and federal needs in the fight to contain CWD, which is considered a serious threat to the future of deer hunting in the U.S.
The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act calls for an annual $70 million investment through fiscal year 2028, split between CWD management and research priorities.
Introduction, debate and floor passage of the House version all occurred between October and December of last year. Since that time, the NRA, as a member of the conservation coalition known as American Wildlife Conservation Partners, has signed onto a letter urging the Senate to act swiftly in passing H.R. 5608.
In both bills, $35 million per year for research would focus on:
- Methods to effectively detect CWD in live and harvested deer and the surrounding environment
- Best practices for reducing CWD occurrence through sustainable harvest of deer and other cervids
- Factors contributing to spread of the disease locally, such as animal movement and scavenging
Another $35 million per year for management, including surveillance and testing, would prioritize:
- Areas with the highest incidence of CWD
- Areas responding to new outbreaks of CWD
- Areas without CWD that show the greatest risk of CWD emerging
- Jurisdictions demonstrating the greatest financial commitment to managing, monitoring, surveying, and researching CWD
- Efforts to develop comprehensive policies and programs focused on CWD management
The bill also includes authorization for federal, state and Tribal agencies to develop educational materials to inform the public on CWD and directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review its Herd Certification Program, which accredits captive operations as “low-risk” for CWD contamination but has proven inadequate to stem the spread of the disease.
Other senators supporting the bill include Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).