Senate Bill Will Address Disease Threatening Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New bipartisan legislation will help address the spread of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease threatening deer, elk, and moose populations in the United States. The bill will help researchers better understand the disease, give state and Tribal experts the resources they need to control its spread, and protect wildlife.

“Chronic wasting disease is a serious threat to populations of whitetail deer, elk, mule deer, moose, and other ungulates that is already taking a deadly toll across the country. Combatting this fatal disease is critical in order to protect wildlife, as well as our outdoor economy,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We are grateful to Senators Heinrich and Hoeven for working across the aisle to support robust research and response efforts to ensure that State and Tribal wildlife managers can take conservation actions based on the best available science.”

“The bipartisan Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act will help ensure state and Tribal agencies on the front lines of controlling this disease have the resources they need to better understand and stop its spread,” said John Bradley, executive director of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation. “Conserving our deer herds and protecting our hunting heritage will require investing in solutions that match the scale of the problem and this bill does exactly that.”

“It was 20 years ago this month that the first case of Chronic Wasting Disease was detected in New Mexico and we’ve been grappling with this threat ever since,” said Jesse W. Deubel, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Action to protect New Mexico’s iconic game species like deer and elk is vital to preserve and protect our outdoor economy. We applaud Senator Heinrich for leading the charge to make real and tangible changes to save some of our states most iconic species.”

Chronic wasting disease is a highly transmissible disease that spreads among members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, and elk, that are critical to ecosystems along with local economies and hunting traditions. The disease is always fatal and, once established in an area, hard to control. Although there have been no reported cases of chronic wasting disease in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention some studies “raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people.”

The bill’s bipartisan original cosponsors include Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roger Marshall (R-Kans.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). 


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