The final rule on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Herd Certification Program and Interstate Movement of Farmed or Captive Deer, Elk, and Moose was published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on July 21, 2006 (SCWDS BRIEFS, Vol. 22, No. 2).

The rule was the result of efforts that go back at least to 1998 when a model program for CWD surveillance, control, and eradication was presented to the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA). The final rule was to be implemented on October 19, 2006; however, on September 8, 2006, APHIS announced a delay in the effective date of the rule (Federal Register Vol. 71, No. 174, p. 52983). On November 3, 2006, APHIS announced that it was soliciting public comments on three petitions it had received concerning the final rule and will consider all comments it receives on or before December 4, 2006 (Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 213, pp. 64650-64651).

The announcement on November 3, and accompanying press release from APHIS stated, “We recently received three petitions requesting a delay in the effective date of the CWD rule and reconsideration of several requirements of the rule. We are currently evaluating the merits of these petitions, and…are making the petitions available for public review and requesting comments on them.” The petitions are from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials, and USAHA.

APHIS invites the public to comment on any of the issues raised by the petitions, but is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the following areas:

  • Consider the alternatives of implementing a federal interstate movement standard versus allowing individual state standards to apply. What hardships or benefits would each alternative impose?
  • With respect to the spread of CWD, in addition to the requirements established by the APHIS CWD rule, what additional safeguards do states need to mitigate or reduce the risk of disease transmission and why are they needed?
  • What practical or operational problems may be expected from the final rule and from the alternatives suggested by the petitions? How could they be alleviated; and
  • Are there any alternatives that could address the petitioners’ concerns, other than allowing the movement requirements of individual states to take precedence over the federal standard?

The petitions may be viewed and comments may be submitted electronically by going to www.regulations.gov, then select “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service” from the agency drop-down menu, then click on “Submit.” In the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2006-0118 to submit or view public comments and to see supporting and related materials. Comments also may be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817. Following evaluation of the comments, APHIS will announce the future direction of the federal CWD program. (Prepared by John Fischer)