On Thursday experts from Minnesota and other parts of the country told Congress that funding is needed to get a handle on Chronic Wasting Disease nationwide.
“We are at a critical moment in the fight against CWD,” said Dr. Peter Larsen, Assistant Professor in the Department of the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota. “And we must do all that we can to protect the heritage that surrounds the cervids of North America.”
The hearing in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies was chaired by Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum.
“Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal, infectious disease that causes neurological damage in the deer family, is an issue that requires urgent concern and attention,” McCollum said. “This hearing will be an opportunity for Congress to learn about current research on this disease and its transmission, as well as the management strategies in place to reduce infection rates and prevent its spread.”
CWD has now been found in wild and farmed deer and elk in 37 states. Experts say one of the problems is that each state approaches it differently. For example, in Minnesota the Department of Natural Resources takes an aggressive approach; testing many more deer than the border states of Wisconsin and Iowa.
The goal is to reduce CWD infection rates and prevent its spread nationwide. But there is a lot of work to do.
Pat Rivers, Deputy Director, Division of Fish and Wildlife at the Minnesota DNR told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are happy CWD is getting national attention and they welcome federal dollars to help research and control CWD. “We get one chance,” said Rivers. “It’s a partnership and a problem that needs to be solved at all levels. Animals are managed by states but hunters cross state lines.”
“Communities in my home state of Minnesota are facing challenges related to CWD, such as how to dispose of infected deer carcasses and how to control environmental contamination,” said McCollum. “Learning more now will help guide future research and management funding priorities and improve collaborative efforts to effectively fight this disease and keep our communities safe.”