Barrasso welcomes Mr. Freeburn and Mr. Nesvik to the committee. Click here to watch Mr. Nesvik’s testimony.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, to the committee. Nesvik was testifying before the committee at a hearing titled “Legislative Hearing on a bill to create a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force.” 

Also in attendance at the hearing was Jim Freeburn who was appointed as a participant in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s recent working group to revise the state’s Chronic Wasting Disease management plan 

Barrasso introduced Nesvik to the committee prior to his testimony. “Before we hear from our witnesses, I want to introduce Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. He is no stranger to this committee. 

“He has previously shared his wildlife expertise with this committee, and has been intimately involved in Wyoming’s Chronic Wasting Disease work for many years and a long time game warden in Wyoming.

“I’ve also had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving and several visits with him overseas including in 2009, when he was deployed to Kuwait as commander of the Second of the 300th Field Artillery unit with the mission of running convoy operations into Iraq. I appreciate your role in commanding that group in the past.

“Director Nesvik, thank you for your service to this country and for all you do for Wyoming,” said Barrasso. 

In his written testimony, Nesvik highlighted the national impacts of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). “CWD continues to spread across our country and its impacts continue to increase commensurate with changes in distribution. This disease has been documented in 26 U.S. States and 3 Canadian Provinces. Aside from wildlife health problems, this disease has economic affects and indirectly impacts the work state agencies are able to conduct on other high conservation priorities. AFWA estimates states will spend $84 million on testing and surveillance over the next 5 years. Infrastructure at the federal level that facilitates cross-state and interagency coordination, planning and synchronization is needed and the ideas in the Discussion Draft you are considering today provides it,” said Nesvik. 

Nesvik also emphasized Wyoming’s efforts to tackle Chronic Wasting Disease. Nesvik stated, “In Wyoming we have re-doubled our efforts in the recent past to explore new options and change the way we think about attacking this problem.  We recently convened a statewide citizen group made up of 31 members and charged them with studying the disease and making recommendations for future management.  Additionally, we established a committee comprised of senior leaders from many Wyoming state agencies to specifically look for solutions to deal with carcass disposal.  The Wyoming legislature’s Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee took this issue up for interim study and, like you, has received testimony regarding the disease, resources required to deal with it and future plans to enhance our efforts.” 

Nesvik concluded by stating the importance for more research to be done in order to tackle Chronic Wasting Disease. “Wyoming and many other states and countries are still learning about this disease and its effects on deer, elk and moose populations, but there is clear evidence that CWD is adversely affecting the overall health and viability of some herds. As wildlife managers, it is our duty and responsibility to tackle this difficult issue, but we can’t do it alone. It is key that an Act is developed and enacted containing the important ideas, framework and funding  as are contemplated in this Discussion Draft.  We will continue to conserve wildlife and serve people in the face of this challenging disease,” said Nesvik

For more information on Nesvik’s testimony and the hearing, click here