Nick Pinizzotto, President & CEO of the National Deer Association (NDA) was among six conservation leaders selected to speak at the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) press conference at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 2023 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
AWCP is made up of the country’s top 50 conservation organizations that work together to advance important wildlife conservation policy, and NDA is a long-standing member.
Pinizzotto provided an update on wildlife diseases, including chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer, pneumonia in wild sheep, and avian influenza. In particular, he provided background information on CWD, including an update on four new states finding the fatal disease of deer and elk in 2022.
“More than 80% of hunters in the United States hunt deer, and deer hunting alone generates nearly $40 billion to the US economy annually,” said Pinizzotto “Deer hunting represents nearly 60% of total hunting expenditures. Considering how our state wildlife agencies are funded, the management of all wildlife could be impacted by CWD if it leads to a decline in deer harvests or hunter interest.”
While ongoing research is seeking solutions, the spread of the disease is outpacing the effort. Fortunately, the CWD Research and Management Act was just passed by Congress at the end of 2022. NDA was one of the original groups that helped write the legislation and pursue passage over nearly five years of effort.
“This Act authorizes $70 million annually, split evenly between research and management, through 2028,” said Pinizzotto. “The money is not guaranteed, there will be a fight for appropriation each year. It’s shared by states and researchers and won’t go as far as you think, but this is a step in the right direction.”