Efforts Combating CWD and Invasive Species Receives Funding

The 2024 legislative short session has come to an end and in a bewildering turn of events, despite broad stakeholder support, House Bill 4148, (HB4148) Rep. Helm’s Wildlife Omnibus Bill, died in ways and means. To recap, HB 4148 would have addressed programmatic needs and raised awareness around migration corridors, zoonotic disease research, combating invasive species and addressing coexistence of wildlife in Oregon. Over the course of the session, BHA members, supporters and other public land owners rallied together and collectively we were able to send over 1000 letters of support for HB 4148. Though the bill did not directly receive funding, key components of the bill including CWD efforts and invasive species, were allocated funds at the end of the session. A summary of funds are shown below:

  • A sum of $795,000 has been allocated to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) efforts. While this falls short of the original request, it surpasses the reduced amount initially provided to the Ways & Means co-chairs, enabling the hiring of a full-time position in the wildlife lab along with seasonal positions for sample collection.
  • Oregon State University's (OSU) Veterinary Lab is set to receive $1.9 million for zoonotic disease and CWD research. This allocation, though less than the initial ask, exceeds the reduced version and is deemed sufficient to establish in-state testing for CWD.
  • The Invasive Species Council secured $1 million in funding, meeting the reduced ask for the program. Funds will support emergency needs as well as outreach/education.

Certain initiatives failed to secure funding, notably the coexistence component of HB 4148 as well as policy language concerning wildlife crossings. This suggests that future attempts may require separate bills to avoid being entangled with funding negotiations.

The outcome of these legislative developments reflects a mixed bag for wildlife conservation efforts in Oregon. While some funding has been secured for critical programs, others have been left wanting. Moving forward, stakeholders may need to reassess strategies to ensure the advancement of wildlife-related policies and funding in the state legislature.

Lastly, a HUGE THANK YOU to all that reacted to the OR Chapter Action alerts, and continue to show up for our public lands, water and wildlife. Though our initial goals were not met, this is still a huge win for the future of ungulates facing threats of CWD in Oregon as well as our public lands facing impacts of invasive species on crucial habitat.

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