NDA Joins Prominent Coalition in Supporting Oklahoma’s Proposed CWD Rules
The National Deer Alliance joined several other prominent organizations in urging the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ favorable consideration of the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s proposed rules for the management of chronic wasting disease (CWD). The coalition is opposed to the recently introduced bill, HJR 1022, that stops short of approving the Department’s proposed CWD rules, which are an important step forward for managing the country’s most urgent wildlife challenge.
CWD affects deer, elk, and moose. It has now spread to at least 26 states and is a considerable threat to wild cervid populations across the country. CWD is highly contagious and is spread through the movement of live and dead deer carrying the disease. With no known treatment or vaccine available, additional research is needed that will help guide wildlife agencies toward the most effective management practices to slow its spread. “One thing is certain. Doing nothing, or hoping that the disease goes away, is not a viable or responsible approach,” said NDA president and CEO, Nick Pinizzotto.
CWD threatens the existence of some of America’s most iconic wildlife species. It also threatens to crumble the American model of conservation funding. Deer hunting contributes nearly $40 billion to the U.S. economy and roughly $5.5 billion in state and local tax revenue on an annual basis. By way of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, many of the purchases hunters make support states’ wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. Additionally, the sale of mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk hunting licenses account for the highest proportion of state fish and wildlife agency funding in many states.
In the letter, the coalition pointed out that an elk recently tested positive for the disease in a captive breeding facility in Lincoln County. In addition to this confirmed positive, it is reasonable to assume that CWD also exists within Oklahoma’s wild herds as it has been found in all bordering states. Pinizzotto added, “It is critical that the Department of Wildlife Conservation be given the authority to prepare for dealing with CWD as most other states are aggressively doing. Anything less would be a disservice to Oklahoma’s wild deer, hunters, industry, and ultimately the state’s conservation goals.”
Organizations supporting consideration of the proposed CWD rules included Archery Trade Association, Boone and Crockett Club, Mule Deer Foundation, National Deer Alliance, Pope and Young Club, Quality Deer Management Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Wildlife Management Institute.