U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, of Wisconsin introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill to manage and prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
“Being a hunter is a big part of who I am, and the Wisconsin way of life. I know firsthand how vital it is that we maintain a healthy deer herd across our state, so we can protect our outdoor traditions and our outdoor economy,” Kind said. “Chronic wasting disease has the potential to devastate our deer herds, which is why we’re working together to introduce a bipartisan bill that brings scientists, local officials, and hunters to the table to help manage and prevent the spread of the disease.”
The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Act will support state and tribal efforts to develop and implement management strategies and support research regarding the causes of chronic wasting disease. The bill will also support methods to control the spread of the disease. As of February of this year, CWD has been confirmed in 26 states, and there are serious concerns that the disease will continue to spread to herds across the country.
“Hunting is an important family-centered activity for hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites and has a multibillion dollar economic impact on our state,” Sensenbrenner said. “Unfortunately, hunters have to be careful of CWD and the potential dangers it poses to humans. This bipartisan legislation would support state and tribal efforts to control and reduce CWD, helping to make our beautiful state’s wildlife healthier and safer for all.”
The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Act is also supported by several wildlife and sportsmen organizations, including the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, National Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Management Institute, Quality Deer Management Association, and National Deer Alliance.
“This legislation will provide wildlife management agencies with much needed resources to stop the spread of this horrible disease,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We must combat chronic wasting disease to protect our hunting traditions and outdoor recreation economy.”
According to Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, 1,049 deer tested positive for CWD in 19 counties across Wisconsin in 2018. Eight of those 19 counties are in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, which Rep. Kind represents, and include Grant, Crawford, Richland, Adams, Juneau, Portage, Eau Claire and Vernon counties.
“The funding and help with research outlined in the legislation by Representatives Kind and Sensenbrenner would give the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources the kind of support it needs as it grapples with the spread of chronic wasting disease in the state,” said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. “Wisconsin’s deer herds are critically important to the state’s more than 600,000 gun hunters and 225,000 bow hunters. They represent an estimated $1 billion in annual economic benefits for the state.”