Washington — The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act was approved by Congress on Dec. 23, advancing solutions for curbing the spread of the always-fatal wildlife disease.
The bill was passed by the House late in 2021.
“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,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and
CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Both efforts
are necessary to ensure the future of our wild deer herds, our continued
hunting opportunities, and the strong impacts of hunter-driven
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. Staff with the Minnesota DNR were contacted for this
story to provide funding details, but were not available prior to Outdoor News press time.
The federal government currently invests $10 million per year in management
efforts through cooperative agreements between state and tribal
agencies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“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 U.S. Reps. (Ron) Kind, D-Wis., and (Glenn) Thompson, R-Pa.,
and Sens. (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; and factors contributing to spread of the
disease locally, such as animal movement and scavenging.
Another $35 million per year is earmarked for management, including
surveillance and testing, and would prioritize areas with the highest
incidences 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; and 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 about CWD
and directs the USDA to review its Herd Certification Program, which
accredits captive deer operations as “low-risk” for CWD contamination.
“The captive Herd Certification Program represents an area where we still
have much work to do,” said Andrew Earl, TRCP’s director of government
relations. “By passing this legislation, Congress has set us up for the
next phase, in which the USDA must hold the captive deer industry
accountable for its role in the rampant spread of CWD.”
Three suspected CWD-positives from Minnesota’s disease management hunt
A total of 568 deer were registered among participating deer permit areas
during the 2022 CWD management hunt that took place Dec. 16-18 in parts
of Minnesota where the disease has been discovered.
The majority of that total harvest during the three days came from the
southeastern deer permit areas of 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, and 655.
Hunters shot 377 deer from those areas, while 89 were registered in the
south-metro’s DPA 605, and 102 deer were shot in DPA 184.
Test results arrived during the holiday weekend, and three new suspected
cases of CWD were discovered. All of those came from the southeast.
No new suspected cases were discovered in DPA 184, with 22 pending samples
still remaining for that area near Bemidji as of Jan. 3.
There were a total of 25 new confirmed or suspected positive cases of CWD discovered in Minnesota’s wild deer herd in 2022.