North Carolina House Bill 181 (H181) introduces a number of changes to the statutes governing the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC). Among these changes are provisions that should help NCWRC respond to and manage chronic wasting disease (CWD) in North Carolina.
Specifically, H181 grants NCWRC the authority to declare a wildlife emergency if it determines that an outbreak of CWD in the State constitutes a significant threat to deer and other cervid species. By declaring a wildlife emergency, NCWRC may request additional funding for immediate investigation, containment, and eradication of the outbreak from the state’s Contingency and Emergency Fund. Approved funds will be transferred to a special fund called the Chronic Wasting Disease Emergency Response Fund (CWD Response Fund). You’ll never hear a state wildlife agency say that they have too much funding for CWD response and management, and H181’s establishment of a CWD Response Fund and appropriations from the state’s Contingency and Emergency Fund is a huge step forward in North Carolina’s fight against CWD.
H181 also instructs NCWRC to request any federal funds available to combat CWD in cervids, and any such funds obtained will be used to offset State funds appropriated to the extent allowed by applicable law. While federal funding to states for CWD management is desperately needed, it’s important that H181 clarify that only federal appropriations or grants specifically tagged for CWD that are appropriated or awarded to NCWRC can be used to offset State funds appropriated from the Contingency and Emergency Fund. NCWRC relies on other federally appropriated funds, including Pittman-Robertson dollars, to carry out its mission to protect and conserve both game and non-game resources in North Carolina, and it’s important that NCWRC can hold on to those funds for a variety of uses.
The National Deer Association (NDA) outlines deer diseases as a critical focus area and slowing the spread of CWD is of primary concern. CWD is one of the largest threats to wildlife conservation that we have encountered over the last century. As many states have learned, preventing the spread of this always-fatal disease is a daunting task and early detection and rapid response once the disease is found is critical for long-term management. H181, through strong funding provisions, will help North Carolina in its fight against CWD. Still, it’s important that H181 clarify that only federal appropriations or grants specifically tagged for CWD that are appropriated or awarded to NCWRC can be used to offset State appropriations.
Please consider joining NDA in supporting the CWD response funding provisions in H181. CLICK HERE to ask your lawmakers to support appropriation of additional funding for the immediate investigation, containment, and eradication of a CWD outbreak in North Carolina, while also encouraging them to clarify which federal appropriations must be used to offset state funding.