Legislation Supports Critical Investments, Study of Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk

Bipartisan Bill Would Authorize Study on How the Wildlife Disease is Spread

Washington, DC – New bipartisan legislation would require the study of chronic wasting disease — a debilitating illness that afflicts and can kill deer, elk and moose — and its transmission. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) introduced the Senate bill (S. 382) today; U.S. Reps. Ralph Abraham (R-La.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives bill (H.R. 837) earlier this week.

The bill authorizes a special resource study of chronic wasting disease, which is found in wild deer or elk herds in 26 states, as well as in many private captive cervid operations. Chronic wasting disease is contagious and leaves animals uncoordinated and emaciated before they succumb to its symptoms. The study on transmission pathways would help inform state wildlife agencies’ plans for slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease.

“Chronic wasting disease is one of the greatest threats facing deer and elk. It also jeopardizes the vital conservation funding that hunters generate through license sales and excise taxes on sporting equipment,” said Mike Leahy, director for wildlife, hunting, and fishing policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “Thank you to Senators Barrasso, Bennet, and Jones and Representatives Abraham and Veasey for working across the aisle to support research that will help state wildlife managers conserve bedrock species of our outdoor heritage.”

The National Wildlife Federation and its affiliates passed a policy resolution in 2017 calling for a national wildlife disease trust fund to address the growing impact of chronic wasting disease. NWF encourages Congress to also authorize and appropriate funding to support state wildlife agencies in their efforts to halt chronic wasting disease.

The legislation is supported by the National Wildlife Federation and other groups including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Deer Alliance.

Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation is the country’s largest conservation organization, representing 51 state and territorial affiliate organizations and over 6 million members and supporters. Its mission is to unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world.

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