Late last month, the Colorado Chapter submitted comments to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) responding to their Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) response plan. You can read these comments below. CWD is a serious issue and we're committed to supporting and strengthening efforts that address and limit its impact. That is why CO BHA would also like to applaud Senator Bennet for introducing a bill to tackle CWD. You can read Senator Bennet's press release here.
Please consider the following comments on behalf of the Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) in regards to the proposed Colorado Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a grassroots sportsmen conservation organization dedicated to serving as a voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife. We support wildlife and land management plans that are scientifically-based and which balance social demands with biological needs. Accordingly, we felt compelled to comment on the current effort to develop a Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan for Colorado.
We applaud CPWs effort to produce this thoughtful, comprehensive plan for managing CWD in wild deer, elk and moose populations in the state. We believe that in following the Western Association of Wildlife and Fish Agencies (WAWFA) guidelines this plan is based first and foremost on the best scientific information available. Management of CWD will remain a constant challenge for the foreseeable future and this plan is a good place to begin a long-term coordinated effort to do so. BHA appreciates the flexibility built into the plan to allow for more nimble adaptation of management strategies based on unfolding disease conditions and better understanding of the disease over time.
BHA recognizes the concern some have raised about possible disease transmission of CWD from captive cervid operations to wild deer and elk. BHA recognizes that protections are in place to prevent such transmission and requests that CPW and the CO Dept of Agriculture continue to work together to vigilantly protect wildlife populations. BHA would like to see a statement addressing this concern and the coordinated effort to prevent disease transmission in the plan. BHA would also like to see more emphasis placed on proactive management within captive cervid facilities, especially where CWD outbreaks have occurred in the past. Some of the proactive management steps we would like to see include but are not limited to the limitation of export/imports to and from captive cervid facilities where CWD outbreaks have occurred in the past, and the installation of double fencing at captive cervid facilities to improve buffer zones and reduce the risk of transmission between wild and captive populations.
Hunters play a very important role in conservation of wildlife populations and they will play a critical role in the management of CWD. BHA agrees with CPW that education will be a critical component of this plan and stands ready to help educate its members and the general public. Timely, transparent communication from CPW will be necessary to ensure that hunters get and stay on board with the plan. In turn, ethical and knowledgeable hunters should be willing to adjust their hunting expectations to reflect disease conditions like CWD. The long-term health of the land and wildlife are an ethical hunter’s first concern, ensuring the opportunity for others to hunt is second and the privilege/right to hunt is third. BHA stands ready to help with the implementation of this plan and will give feedback to CPW as things unfold.
Thanks for your efforts on this important matter and your consideration of our comments.