Conservation Organizations Request Congressional Support for CWD

Last week, 24 of the country’s leading conservation organizations sent a letter to the Senate’s “Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations” urging that the FY 2004 federal budget include the necessary funding to fully implement the National Plan to Assist States, Federal Agencies and Tribes in Managing Chronic Wasting Disease in Captive and Free Ranging Cervids (National CWD Plan).

The letter’s signatories expressed concern “that the collaborative science-based recommendations in the National CWD Plan and its associated Implementation Document have not been given due consideration during the development of the FY 2004 budget.” The Implementation Document recommends $13.6 million for USDA, $7.75 million for DOI and $20.46 million for state and tribal grants during the first year. However, the Administration only requested $14 million for USDA, of which only $7 million is for Plan activities. Moreover, DOI would receive only $2.4 million under the Administration’s request, less than half of what the Implementation Document’s authors recommended, and the states would receive nothing. The letter pointed out that “the states have already spent millions of dollars on this issue and need federal funding assistance to continue the battle. While both the DOI and the USDA Agriculture have been assisting states and tribes to the extent that their budgets permit; significant additional funding is needed to implement the actions and programs outlined in the National CWD Plan and its associated Implementation Document. Since the management of resident wildlife is the responsibility of the appropriate state wildlife agency, in addition to funding the CWD activities of both the DOI and USDA, the federal budget appropriation must provide funding that will be passed on to the states through a grant program that requires no match.”

Congress was urged to include adequate funding in the FY 2004 federal budget to fully implement year one of the National CWD Plan. Specifically, the groups requested $7.75 million for agency programs within Department of the Interior, plus $20.46 million for non-matching state and tribal grants to be administered either through USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Organizations signing the letter were: Bear Trust International ▪ Boone and Crockett Club ▪ Bowhunting Preservation Alliance ▪ Buckmasters American Deer Foundation ▪ Campfire Club of America ▪ Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation ▪ Conservation Force ▪ Foundation for North American Wild Sheep ▪ Houston Safari Club ▪ International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies ▪ Izaak Walton League of America ▪ Mule Deer Foundation ▪ National Rifle Association ▪ National Shooting Sports Foundation ▪ National Trappers Association ▪ Pope and Young Club ▪ Quality Deer Management Association ▪ Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation ▪ Ruffed Grouse Society ▪ Safari Club International ▪ Shikar Safari Club International ▪ The Wildlife Society ▪ Wildlife Management Institute ▪ Whitetails Unlimited, Inc.

The full text letter may be accessed on the CWD Alliance’s web site. Go to the Policy and Legislative tab (http://www.cwd-info.org/index.php/fuseaction/policy.legislative).