96% of Americans Want Action to Protect Deer From CWD

October 11, 2022 By: Torin Miller

Never has it been more clear that the vast majority of American hunters and non-hunters value the presence of wildlife where they live and recognize the economic importance of healthy wildlife populations on the landscape. As recent legislative sessions have proven, wildlife and conservation issues remain bipartisan, and a recent poll conducted on behalf of the National Deer Association (NDA) and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) shows that most Americans across all demographics support additional state and federal action to better manage chronic wasting disease (CWD).

The poll, which surveyed 800 random voters across demographic spectrums, found that 94% of Americans said that the presence of wildlife where they live is important to their quality of life, and 92% believe wildlife is important to their state’s economy. When asked about CWD specifically, 96% of respondents said it is important for their state to take action to limit the spread of CWD. Notably, support for CWD management in states currently without CWD detections did not vary significantly from states that have already detected the disease. 

The NDA will continue to advocate for the expansion and implementation of these and other management priorities, and we’ll do so with broad constituent support.

All tested management actions that could be taken to help limit the spread of CWD are supported by two-thirds of voters. These include:

  • 93% support for improving the availability and turnaround of CWD tests of deer harvested by hunters to better track and manage the disease;
  • 93% support for increasing the disease detection standards that captive deer operations have to follow to be classified as a “low-risk” facility for CWD;
  • 90% support for stopping the movement of live, captive deer between facilities to limit the possibility of disease being spread from operation to operation; and
  • 88% support for dedicating additional federal funding to help state wildlife and agriculture agencies limit the spread of CWD in wild and captive deer.

The margin of error on the random survey was plus or minus 4%, meaning that even under the assumption that the results are the maximum of 4% high, we still have overwhelming majority support for active CWD management.

The NDA has been actively advocating for the expansion or implementation of all the above widely-supported management actions, and the passage of the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act would provide a major lift for these priority actions. The CWD Research and Management Act provides $70 million in annual funding for CWD, with half going toward research projects to better understand the disease and half going to state agencies for on-the-ground management. And we know that CWD management already strains agency budgets and costs are only expected to increase. The bill also calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take a hard-look at its captive cervid program to ensure low disease risk in captive facilities.

Finally, the NDA and conservation partners called for a movement moratorium on the interstate movement of live, captive deer between facilities. While there remains much to learn about CWD, we do know that moving deer, dead or alive, can facilitate it’s spread. CWD spreads the fastest and the furthest when carried in a vehicle, and that’s something that all deer managers and hunters should be concerned about.

Fortunately, these management actions are within reach, and they’re undoubtedly supported by most Americans. The NDA will continue to advocate for the expansion and implementation of these and other management priorities, and we’ll do so with broad constituent support. Stay tuned for more detailed updates and communications on additional poll statistics.

About Torin Miller:

Torin Miller is a licensed attorney and NDA’s Director of Policy. He works at the intersection of conservation and natural resources law, policy, advocacy and education. He has a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn State University, a J.D. from Penn State Law and is finishing a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State. Torin came to NDA via the National Deer Alliance, where he served as the Policy and Outreach Coordinator.