Bennet Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Tackle Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer and Elk

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today joined bipartisan colleagues John Barrasso (R-WY) and Doug Jones (D-AL) in introducing legislation to increase wildlife managers’ ability to keep wildlife healthy.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) affects both wild and domestic herds of deer and elk in 25 states, including Colorado. However, state recommendations for preventing the spread of the disease vary. This bipartisan bill would authorize a special resource study to help prevent the disease from spreading. It 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 deer and elk herds affected by Chronic Wasting Disease are a critical part of Colorado’s wildlife heritage and economy,” said Bennet. “We need to learn more about containing CWD, and this bipartisan legislation will provide the information state wildlife professionals need to align their work and prevent further spread.”

“The NAS study on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) transmission as proposed by Senator Bennet is a huge step forward to helping us better conserve our nation's wildlife against the spread and negative effects of Chronic Wasting Disease,” said Bob Broschied, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a 100% fatal disease of deer, elk, moose, reindeer, and other species of the family Cervidae which continues to spread across North America, with reported cases now in 25 states and 4 Canadian provinces. CPW has been managing CWD for several decades, and is very grateful to Senator Bennet for his support of this legislation to facilitate scientific-based solutions that will benefit our state’s wildlife.”

The Chronic Wasting Disease Transmission in Cervidae Study Act addresses the needs identified by state wildlife agencies. The bill would require the USDA secretary to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies of Sciences to review current data and best management practices (BMPs) from the CWD Herd Certification Program and state agencies regarding: 1) Pathways and mechanisms for CWD transmission, 2) Areas at risk and geographical patterns of CWD transmission, and 3) Gaps in current scientific knowledge regarding transmission to prioritize research to address gaps.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Thune (R-SD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) cosponsored the legislation.

The bill text is available HERE.