Allard, McInnis introduce CWD bills

Bills have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives asking for federal support in combating chronic wasting disease.

Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colorado) has teamed with two representatives from Wisconsin in introducing the Chronic Wasting Disease Support for States Act in the House.

Sen. Allard (R-Colorado) has also joined two senators from Wisconsin in introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate.

The house bill would allocate $27 million to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease.

"Our legislation would make the federal government a more efficient, effective and comprehensive supporter of the states in their fight to contain and eradicate this scourge," McInnis said in a press release.

"Our intent is to begin moving this bill right after the Memorial Day recess to make sure that federal reinforcements are on the way before hunting season."

Concerns have recently been raised in Northwest Colorado regarding what affect the recent discovery of chronic wasting disease in wild mule deer south of Hayden might have on the number of out-of-state hunters coming to the area next fall.

Chronic wasting disease, which attacks the brains of infected deer and elk causing them to die, was detected for the first time on the Western Slope at the end of March, when two wild mule deer were discovered to be carrying the disease at the Motherwell Ranch south of Hayden.

Since then more than 1,000 deer and elk have been killed within a five-mile radius of the ranch in an effort to eradicate the disease.

During the eradication effort, 10 deer tested positive for the disease but the illness was not detected in any elk.

The responsibility of controlling the disease in the wild rests with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, while the Department of Agriculture is in charge of dealing with it in domestic herds. According to a press release from McInnis' office, the new legislation addresses the problem in both captive and wild herds, whereas in the past a focus has been put on controlling the disease in domestic herds. Under the bill, the Department of Agriculture would be responsible for partnering with the states in monitoring, surveying and managing captive herds, while the Department of Interior would support the states in tracking and managing wild deer and elk herds.

"Our legislation is creating a backbone for states to treat the epidemic," said Blair Jones, press secretary for McInnis. "So far there's been a lot of dispute on how to handle it."

McInnis said it is important that the disease be dealt with in both captive and wild herds.

"We've managed to untangle the jurisdictional knots in a way that ensures that full attention is being paid to both the captive and wild CWD problem," McInnis said. "If we're going to be successful in fighting chronic wasting disease, we must fight the battle on both fronts."

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