Congressman Scott McInnis (R-CO), Chairman of the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, re-introduced “The Chronic Wasting Disease Support for States Act” today, legislation that will authorize $24 million to combat the spread of the debilitating disease found in wild and domestic mule deer and elk herds in eight states. The bipartisan measure, cosponsored by Rep. Mark Green (R-WI), enjoys support from both houses of Congress, including several members of the Colorado and Wisconsin delegations.

Last summer, McInnis conducted Congressional hearings on the disease where he put several federal agencies on “notice” to swiftly create a unified and integrated game plan to fight the spreading epidemic, or face the results of Congressional action. McInnis charged that the plan should lay out in specific terms how the federal government intended to support state decision-makers, what the division of labor between the federal agencies should look like, and how much money each of the agencies would need to fulfill its assigned mission.

“As I have said all along, the focus of any plan must put the states in charge of this fight, where the real experts on this disease are in a better position to attack this epidemic. The federal government will be relegated a background role in this process, available to support state experts as needed,? McInnis said.

In an effort to ensure federal action, language was inserted in the conference report accompanying the FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations measure. The language directed the Secretary of Interior to release a plan for assisting states and other entities in managing CWD in wild and captive deer and elk herds, within 90 days of the February 20th date of enactment. With the May 21st deadline looming, McInnis and the other members re-introduced their legislative plan in the event the federal agencies are unable to meet the target date.

The bill will provide funding to state agencies charged with researching methods to diagnose and control the spread of the disease, and will direct the federal government to create a unified game plan that supports state decision-makers in that mission.

Specifically, the bill would authorize: $1 million in new federal research moneys; $15 million to be passed through the federal government to state wildlife and agriculture agencies for the purpose of monitoring, surveying, and managing infected wild and captive herds; $2.5 million to upgrade and create new diagnostic labs; $1.5 million to create a National Chronic Wasting Disease Clearinghouse in the United States Geologic Survey, similar to databases it runs for other infectious wildlife diseases like the West Nile Virus; and $4 million for federal, state, local and private CWD related educational activities. The U.S. Geological Survey, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agriculture Research Service, and the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service will handle the duties.

HR2057 can be viewed on the CWD Alliance website (www.cwd-info.org). Go to the “Policy and Legislative” Tab and open the Legislative page.