Nearly One-Third of Federal CWD Funding Siphoned Off to Compensate Captive Deer Farms

Sportsmen and state agencies have been petitioning the federal government for help with chronic wasting disease (CWD) prevention measures. In 2020, Congress responded by appropriating $5 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to send directly to state wildlife and agricultural departments tasked with responding to the disease.

In a report issued by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), they state that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a division of the Department of Agriculture, has paid 1.5 million dollars in “indemnification” payments to owners of captive deer farms that have had to euthanize CWD positive herds.

“These indemnification payments aid businesses that have unfortunately already been part of the CWD problem,” stated TRCP, “And don’t address the continued strain placed on state agencies scrambling to manage the spread of the disease.”

They also added, “APHIS has made it clear that they place a higher value on the $4-billion captive deer industry than on hunters who generate $40 billion each year and contribute to conservation.”

The TRCP believes that the appropriations come from a stakeholders meeting where captive deer management agencies outnumbered wild deer conservation agencies “two to one,” and were able to guide the conservation and money away from wild deer programs and focus them on helping captive deer operations.

The TRCP is asking sportsmen to sign their open letter to the USDA that makes the following demands.

  • Spend appropriated funds in a way that effectively addresses the spread of CWD in captive and wild cervid populations.
  • Listen to hunter voices, address our priorities, and be transparent about decision-making.
  • Update the Herd Certification Program to prevent the transmission of CWD across state lines and hold captive deer operators accountable.
  • Improve coordination with other state and federal partners working to contain the disease.

The TRCP is also petitioning for a congressional review of the process and of the APHIS.