The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Research and Management Act (H.R. 5608) has been years in the making, but it’s only one vote away from heading to the president’s desk. Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t have that last vote yet.
My understanding is that Mr. Rand Paul, the Junior Senator from Kentucky, has placed the lone hold on this legislation and is keeping it from passing. All 99 other members of the United States Senate have offered their consent to unanimously pass the bill.
Senator Paul did, however, find the time to collaborate with the known anti-hunting outfit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) last week. That’s not the message I’d want to be sending to hunters across Kentucky, but that’s Mr. Paul’s prerogative.
The final passage of this bill is long overdue, and we’re nearly there. If you live in Kentucky (and even if you don’t), give Senator Rand Paul’s office a call (202-224-4343 is their D.C. number) and let him know how crucial this bill is to the welfare of wildlife and hunters across the nation.
Remember to be respectful, calm, and collected, but get your point across clearly. This bill needs to get done before the end of the Congress, and it’s important to all of us.
To refresh your memory, CWD is an always-fatal disease caused by a prion, or misfolded protein, that accumulates in the nervous system tissues of members of the deer family (aka cervids). Other prion diseases include scrapie, which occurs in sheep, as well as mad cow disease. CWD has been detected in 30 states so far, including several surrounding Mr. Paul’s home state of Kentucky.
For the last several years, Congress has appropriated funds to provide research and management grants through the USDA Animal-Plant Health Inspection Service. Those folks are doing a great job distributing money to people and programs that aim to curb the spread of, and learn more about, this disease. However, this grant program has never had formal authorization. That’s where this bill comes in.
The CWD Research & Management Act would authorize $70 million for this program, with $35 million going towards research and management programming, respectively. All of these funds would be subject to the annual appropriations process, but they would be more reliably available from year to year. This legislation would also require the Secretary of Agriculture to comprehensively review the herd certification program, which is used by captive cervid operators to ensure sick deer are not moved from one facility to another.
I’ve made my calls to my Congressional delegation and urged my close friends in Kentucky to do the same. Now is the time to make our voices heard and get this to the President’s desk.
If you live in Kentucky, feel free to use this handy app from our friends at Backcountry Hunters & Anglers to weigh in, or head on over to the Cal to Action page for more helpful links.
To learn more about CWD, visit the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance here.