Wicker Fights Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

Disease Could Devastate Deer Populations and Mississippi Hunting Industry

November 16, 2018

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., today wrote a letter signed by eight of their colleagues to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to request their departments work with the hunting and sporting community to respond to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This infectious neurodegenerative disease, similar to mad cow disease, affects deer, elk, and moose. CWD has been confirmed in 25 states and 4 Canadian provinces.

So far in 2018, three deer in Mississippi have tested positive for CWD, prompting concerns for hunters ahead of rifle season, which begins this weekend in Mississippi. The Senators suggested caution over the interstate transportation of deer species because the only test for confirming the presence of CWD is post-mortem.

The Senators wrote in part, “the frequency of CWD detection has grown in infected areas, and new positive tests are being reported as deer hunting seasons begin around the county.” The Senators went on to say, “This level of loss is already threatening deer and elk hunting, which are extremely popular in the United States. More than 9 million Americans participate in these activities annually, which are estimated to contribute more than $20 billion in economic activity, tax revenues, and license sales.

“We believe your agency experts, representatives from states and tribes, and the [Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council] can identify needs for national policy on this matter.”

In addition to the letter, Senator Wicker is an original cosponsor of the “Chronic Wasting Disease Transmission in Cervidae Study Act,” introduced this week by U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo. The legislation would require the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to expand understanding of CWD, how it is transmitted, and the potential for this disease to transmit to humans.

Click here for a PDF copy of Wicker’s letter.