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Congress passes CWD management funding

Washington, D.C. — The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act was approved by Congress on Dec. 23, advancing much-needed solutions for curbing the spread of this always-fatal wildlife disease.

The legislation now awaits the president’s signature, having been included in the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding deal. The bill was previously passed by the House late last year.

“As hunters, we celebrate this decisive action by our lawmakers to infuse state and Tribal agencies with the resources needed to control CWD, while investing in targeted research to create stronger disease solutions,” Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said in a release. “Both efforts are necessary to ensure the future of our wild deer herds, our continued hunting opportunities, and the strong impacts of hunter-driven conservation funding.”

A peer-reviewed report published last month found that wildlife agencies in 16 CWD-positive states spent an average of $773,000 on disease management in 2021. Currently, the federal government invests just $10 million per year in these efforts through cooperative agreements between state and Tribal agencies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In a 2022 poll, 88% of American voters said they support additional federal investment in CWD management at the state level.

“The National Deer Association has been working tirelessly to increase federal support for the research and management of CWD,” said Torin Miller, senior director of
policy for the NDA. “We’re celebrating the passage of the CWD Research and Management Act, and we’re incredibly grateful to Representatives (Ron) Kind (D-Wis.) and (Glenn) Thompson (R-Pa.) and Senators (John) Hoeven (R – N.D.) and (Martin) Heinrich (D-N.M.) for their dedication and leadership on this issue. We’re looking forward to efficient and effective implementation and finding additional ways to increase federal engagement and support to combat this devastating disease.”

The CWD Research and Management Act would split $70 million annually through fiscal year 2028 on management and research priorities.

This includes $35 million per year for research that focuses 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.