Earlier this week, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee unanimously approved S. 3051, a package of bills entitled America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, or the ACE Act. Sponsored by senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE), the ACE Act reauthorizes a variety of federal wildlife and habitat programs.
One of the ACE Act’s key objectives is to highlight the threats posed by Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal disease effecting deer, elk, caribou and moose in 26 states and 4 Canadian provinces. The EPW Committee has hosted several hearings focused on CWD this year, most recently on December 4 when they discussed formation of a CWD Task Force in conjunction with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
While CWD is not causing widespread reductions in deer populations, it represents a notable threat to hunting and wildlife management in North America.
According to Senator Barrasso, “This task force will bring states, relevant federal agencies, scientists, managers, and farmers to the table. Together they can better coordinate prevention and control efforts and target future research to address unanswered questions.”
Also included in the ACE Act is Rep. Austin Scott’s (R-GA) Modernizing Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, which will provide State fish and wildlife agencies with flexibility in using their Pittman-Robertson Fund dollars to help hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation programs. While these reforms are included the final FY 2020 Interior Department spending bill, inclusion in the ACE Act is designed to authorize them in Federal law on a permanent basis.