Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this important hearing today on chronic wasting disease. I am very sorry I could not be here in person, but my Finance Committee duties have kept me away. I would like to personally welcome Dr. Gary Wolfe, of Missoula, Montana, who will be testifying on behalf of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance. Dr. Wolfe has done an excellent job during his time with the Alliance. I am very pleased he is here today to share his knowledge and describe the good work of the Alliance in providing and distributing accurate information about chronic wasting disease (CWD).
This hearing is very timely as there is increasing concern about CWD and the impacts it could have on our wild deer and elk populations. I know sportsmen and hunters are concerned about how CWD could impact their ability to hunt these important game animals. This in turn could hurt the important hunting and outfitting industry, particularly in states like Montana where hunting, outfitting and related businesses are vital to our economy. Montana is not currently affected by CWD like other states, but some believe it may just be a matter of time before CWD becomes a problem for us.
Given the potentially devastating impacts of CWD, I’ve been pleased to learn that state and federal wildlife agencies are working well together to come up with a strategic plan for addressing the growing CWD crisis. I fully support these efforts, and I will do what I can to work with my colleagues to see that these efforts are adequately funded. Coordinating research and information on CWD is extremely important to finding the best way to maintain healthy elk and deer populations across the country.
I would like to applaud the Chairman and Senator Allard for introducing S. 1366 the Chronic Wasting Disease Financial Assistance Act of 2003. This bill has received positive testimony from today’s witnesses, and I plan to study it carefully. I hope to be able to give it my full support.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.