Conservation groups hope convention comes to fruition with CWD Relief / Public News Service

The spread of chronic wasting disease among deer and elk is a concern in North Dakota. Conservation groups hope bills passing through Congress will gain more support for states to research and manage them.

The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Act, which was passed by the US House this month, would help states and tribes learn more about CWD and share strategies for dealing with new cases.

Mike Leahy – director of wildlife, hunting and fishing policy for the National Wildlife Federation – said it is essential to control this deadly disease before it affects hunting seasons. Leahy said hunters are a big part of the conservation community.

“If that number of deer and elk goes down because of the chronic wasting disease,” said Leahy, “or if the number of hunters goes down, it could have a direct impact on the amount of funds allocated to wildlife management. deer, elk – but then also, wildlife management of other species.

CWD, first discovered in North Dakota in 2009, attacks the brain of the infected animal and is contagious and fatal.

As for the House bill, it is co-sponsored by the state’s only congressman, Rep. Kelly Armstrong – R-Dickinson. It was referred to a Senate committee.

Separately, there is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would provide significant funding to combat the decline of wildlife as a whole. Leahy said together that the two bills would ensure that work done to recover deer and elk populations is not threatened.

“Historic efforts have been made to restore these populations, especially by hunters and many other conservationists,” Leahy said. “These are some of our greatest successes in wildlife conservation, and that success is certainly threatened by this disease.”

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven – RN.D. – introduced Senate bills dealing with CWD and conservationists hope he will support these measures.

John Bradley, executive director of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, said the efforts can help with rapid response testing.

“Hunters want to know their deer is MDC free before they can eat it,” Bradley said. “The tests also give the state agency, North Dakota Game and Fish, the appropriate data to really get an assessment of where the CWD is in the landscape.”

North Dakota has not experienced a CWD-related population decline like other states, but authorities still want to avoid it. The conclusions on human transmission are unclear, but consumption of meat from infected animals is not recommended.

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