Action Alert: Contact Governor Stitt to Veto HB 3462

April 30, 2024 By: Catherine Appling-Pooler

We are facing a critical threat to Oklahoma’s wild deer population with the introduction of House Bill 3462 (HB 3462). This bill proposes a pilot program aimed at enhancing the genetic durability of Oklahoma deer against chronic wasting disease (CWD). While this may sound promising on the surface, a deeper examination reveals significant risks and concerns that cannot be ignored.

HB 3462 directs the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF), in collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), to develop a pilot program focused on enhancing CWD resistance in Oklahoma deer. However, the proposed methods rely on emerging science that is not widely accepted and has only been tentatively explored in captive deer, without conclusive validation in wild populations.

The introduction of such a program raises serious concerns about the potential risks to Oklahoma’s wild deer. The lack of conclusive evidence supporting the effectiveness of genetic enhancement in captive populations, let alone in the wild, underscores the uncertainty surrounding this approach. Additionally, research published in peer-reviewed journals suggests genetic selection in captive facilities could potentially counteract existing genetic adaptations in CWD-affected wild populations and may even heighten the risk of zoonotic transmission.

Furthermore, HB 3462’s approval of a stocking plan alongside the pilot program is cause for alarm. It suggests conclusions were drawn before sufficient research has been conducted. This approach undermines the integrity of the scientific process and threatens the well-being of our wildlife.

Moreover, the bill’s implication that ODAFF has more expertise in addressing CWD than ODWC lacks substantiation. Rather than fostering collaboration, HB 3462 seeks to transfer disease oversight exclusively to the Department of Agriculture. This shift is not only divisive but also disregards the successful joint efforts between agriculture and wildlife agencies in other states. In fact, ODAFF and ODWC have a history of collaboration on CWD and have previously developed a joint response plan for addressing the disease. Therefore, such unilateral action risks fragmenting existing collaborative frameworks and undermining effective disease management strategies.

As concerned citizens and advocates for Oklahoma’s natural resources, we must take action to oppose HB 3462. We cannot afford to gamble with the health and resilience of our wild deer population.

Take action now! Click the button below to send a letter urging Governor Stitt to veto HB 3462. Let’s unite in steadfast defense of our state’s invaluable wildlife.

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