Conservation

Organizations Unite to Fight CWD

Half the battle with CWD is knowing what we're up against. The other half is finding the funds to fight.
Photo Credit: John Hafner

Author: Cassie Scott

As a business owner, you already know that being a solo act is challenging. Tough times are better faced with an army of support. If the livelihood of your archery business was in jeopardy, you would want a strategic partner to help problem-solve. A good partnership can amplify the efforts of one organization tenfold.

How about 15 partners?

The Archery Trade Association and 14 other conservation organizations recently joined forces to seek funding for chronic wasting disease, an always-fatal, contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose in the United States and Canada.

It’s no secret that hunters, wildlife agencies and archery and bowhunting industry members rely heavily on the white-tailed deer for business and pleasure. Because CWD is killing deer, the ATA recognizes the disease as a major threat to the industry and works with other conservation organizations to combat it.

On August 22, the ATA, National Deer Alliance and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies organized a landmark meeting held in Washington, D.C., to create a coordinated strategy for CWD funding, education and political action. Although there are many ongoing efforts to combat and address CWD across the conservation community, the industry has lacked a true joint effort. This initiative seeks to merge ongoing and diluted CWD efforts into one unified voice. The goal? Learn more about the disease, its spread and how to manage it.

On August 22, the ATA, National Deer Alliance and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies organized a landmark meeting held in Washington, D.C., to create a coordinated strategy for CWD funding, education and political action. Dan Forster, ATA director of government relations, participated in the conference call for political action. Photo Credit AFWA.

Jay McAninch, ATA CEO/president, was present at the gathering, and Dan Forster, ATA director of government relations, participated via conference call. Other attendees included representatives from the Wildlife Management Institute, National Wildlife Federation, Congressional Sportsman Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Quality Deer Management Association and more. While this is an impressive list of partners, other conservation entities are expected to join in this effort as momentum and collaboration continues.

The group agreed on two things:

1. CWD is a major threat to deer and deer hunting, and action is needed.

2. State wildlife agencies, the federal agency and non-governmental organizations need funding and support for research and surveillance efforts so biologists and other researchers can better understand the disease and find ways to control or manage it.

The group also agreed on a few next steps:

1. Use the NDA to focus on CWD advocacy.

2. Compile a list of members of Congress, senators and Capitol Hill influencers with a special interest in CWD to contact regarding support of the initiative.

3. Continue working with the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and others to ensure CWD is included in ongoing Farm Bill Reauthorization discussions. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food and agricultural programs through 2018.

Along with continuing the efforts of the National Wildlife and Fish Agencies for Chronic Wasting Disease, the group agreed to use the NDA to focus on CWD advocacy, as well as compile a list of members of Congress, senators and Capitol Hill influencers with a special interest in CWD to contact regarding support of the initiative. Photo Credit: John Hafner.

The combined efforts have the power to yield better results and more funding and support for CWD research and surveillance efforts. Although these organizations work for you behind the scenes, you can get involved with CWD issues. (Check out these five ways you can show your support.)

Together, everyone can help fight the battle with CWD. For example, projects like the ATA’s Deer Protection Program are already on the front lines of this crusade. This voluntary program asks manufacturers to create urine-based scent products that meet or exceed state and federal CWD-certification requirements.  When you sell or purchase products marked with the ATA’s “Seal of Participation” label, you are already joining the fight to reduce chronic wasting disease.

When we work together, the future of the white-tailed deer – a species on which many of us rely – won’t look so bleak. As partners, we can create healthier deer populations and cultivate a more organized and unified archery and bowhunting industry.

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