Bill Authorizes Additional Resources for State CWD Management & Surveillance Efforts, Establishes Unified Response Framework.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today introduced legislation to establish a unified response framework for combating the threat of chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic threatening white-tailed deer populations in Mississippi and at least 24 other states.
The Detection, Enhanced Education, and Response (DEER) Act of 2019 would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allocate additional resources directly to state departments of wildlife and state departments of agriculture to develop and implement CWD surveillance, testing, management and response activities.
“Mississippi is on the geographic eastern-leading edge of the spreading CWD epidemic, which now affects 25 states. We have to get out in front of this,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“Free-ranging whitetails don’t recognize state boundaries, and we cannot count of what other states have or are planning to do to combat this growing problem. A unified response framework would allow us to get a better grasp on the issue,” she said.
CWD is a contagious, always fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family.
In addition to authorizing additional funding, the DEER Act would establish a CWD multi-agency task force led by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) with representatives from other relevant federal and state entities, and institutions of higher education. In addition, it would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to designate a land-grant university to serve as the Mid-South Center of Excellence in Wildlife Diseases to be the lead research institution on the disease.
Hyde-Smith noted that the Mississippi