Chronic wasting disease (CWD) continues to wreak havoc on deer, elk and moose herds across the country. Multiple states have established CWD regulations and action plans to keep the disease in check and Wisconsin recently approved an emergency CWD rule that outlaws the transportation of an infected deer out of the county where it was found. However, figuring out why the fatal disease keeps spreading is paramount. This is why the Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) recently approved a second year of research funding that is geared toward finding answers in order to fight CWD.
“When our current Club president took office in January of 2017, he made CWD one of the primary focuses of his administration,” said Dr. Josh Millspaugh, B&C Professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Montana and subcommittee chair of the grants program. “With the help of our professionals on the ground, we expanded the Club’s role in addressing CWD by providing support, leadership, organization, and bringing experts together to set a path, which will have a meaningful impact on policy, research and education, and help coordinate stakeholders’ activities.”
Over 15 years ago, B&C joined forces with other organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Mule Deer Foundation to form the CWD Alliance.
“Denying we have a problem and just kicking at the dirt isn’t going to cut it,” said Ben B. Hollingsworth Jr., president of B&C, in a press release. “I’ve committed my time as Club president to getting answers we can use. More research will pay huge dividends in our ability to manage this disease.”
The second year of funding will center on specifically on making CWD the main research focus at land-grant universities. They hope to accomplish this by working closely with Congress on the research title of the pending Farm Bill.
“We funded three major projects last year and our own research programs at the university level are underway,” said Millspaugh. “Our grants program has targeted answers to questions about CWD spread, improving testing methods, and understanding more about the different strains of CWD. All of these projects are important to management of the disease. Going forward, research funds will be dispersed through the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) in an effort to match those funds. Our friends at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation partnered with our grants program last year contributing dollars for research. We hope to leverage similar funding opportunities working with our partners through WMI.”