Bennet, Barrasso, Jones Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Tackle Chronic Wasting Disease

Bill will help stop spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, elk, and moose

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Doug Jones (D-AL) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to increase wildlife managers’ ability to keep wildlife healthy.

“Transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease among deer and elk herds is a critical issue, threatening parts of Colorado’s outdoor economy and way of life,” Bennet said.  “This bill would provide state wildlife professionals with the information they need to standardize their work, improve CWD management, and prevent further spread across the country.”

The Chronic Wasting Disease Transmission in Cervidae Study Act authorizes a special resource study to determine how CWD spreads and could be prevented in deer and elk. CWD can affect both wild and domestic herds of deer and elk in 26 states and several Canadian provinces. However, state recommendations for preventing the spread of the disease vary. When completed, the study would give state wildlife agencies and wildlife experts information to conduct targeted research on how the disease is transmitted, determine which areas are most at risk, and develop consistent advice for hunters to prevent further spread.

"The NAS study on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) transmission as proposed by Senator Bennet is a much needed step to help state wildlife agencies better protect our nation's big game populations against the spread and negative effects of Chronic Wasting Disease," said Jeff Ver Steeg, Acting Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“By understanding how Chronic Wasting Disease spreads, we can begin to eradicate it and protect our hunting heritage and economy,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bipartisan legislation will bring the Departments of Interior and Agriculture together to ensure healthy wildlife. Sportsmen and women appreciate the leadership of Senators Barrasso, Jones and Bennet to protect the deer herds that are vital to our way of life.”

“Ungulate game species such as deer, elk and moose are prized by American hunters and contribute to the economic health of communities and wildlife management agencies alike. Since diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease have been found to reduce hunter participation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers offers our thanks to Sens. John Barrasso, Michael Bennet and Doug Jones, for leading the CWD fight in the Senate. Increasingly, states are finding wild cervid herds infected by CWD, and a strategic response, including expanding research responsibilities between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture and addressing CWD’s impact on our wildlife resources and hunting opportunities, is critical,” said John Gale, Conservation Director for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

The legislation addresses the needs identified by state agencies through the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). The bill requires the USDA and Interior secretaries to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies of Sciences to review current data and best management practices (BMPs) from federal and state agencies regarding:

  • Pathways and mechanisms for CWD transmission
  • Areas at risk and geographical patterns of CWD transmission
  • Gaps in current scientific knowledge regarding transmission to prioritize research to address gaps

Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Boozman (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), cosponsored the legislation. U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham (R-LA) also introduced a bipartisan companion bill in the House of Representatives today.

Groups that support the bill include: Association for Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Muley Fanatics Foundation, Boone and Crockett Club, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, The Wilderness Society, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and others.

The bill text is available HERE.