New Report Examines Habitat Loss Impacts on Wildlife, Hunting, Fishing

 ‘America the Beautiful’ Initiative Recognizes Role of Sporting Community in Restoring Wildlife Habitat

DENVER (March 28, 2022) — Habitat loss is threatening the wildlife, lands, and waters that hunters and anglers rely upon — and sportswomen and sportsmen have a crucial role to play in seeking common-sense solutions, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation Outdoors.

The United States is losing nature at an unprecedented rate. According to this report, species lost, on average, 6.5 million acres of vital habitat over the last two decades. This loss varies by species with some iconic species, such as mule deer, well exceeding the average. 

The report examines effective solutions, including the America the Beautiful initiative and the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, that will conserve, restore, and reconnect our natural systems and reclaim degraded lands in order to recover wildlife and protect sporting traditions. As the report notes: “By conserving, connecting, and restoring 30% of our lands and water by 2030, we can slow the loss of habitat, provide important game and fish species with the room to stabilize and recover, and meet the needs of the sporting community today and in the future.”

As leaders in Congress consider historic investments in natural infrastructure and wildlife habitat, which includes restoration and resilience projects, the report urges hunters and anglers to take the lead and use their extensive knowledge from the field to speak out for wildlife decline and habitat loss. 

“Hunters and anglers are firsthand witnesses to nearly everything that happens in the fields, forests, and on the water,” said Aaron Kindle director of sporting advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation. “We have seen how habitat loss is a very real threat to our sporting future, and that we need to utilize all tools in the toolbox to incentivize the conservation of native landscapes and the restoration of degraded areas. We hope this report shines light on these issues and spurs investment as soon as possible.”  

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at

The logo of the National Wildlife Federation is circular and features a raccoon wearing a ranger hat.

Photo Credit: Emily Wood

CWD Bill Could Provide the Funding and Research Needed to Fight Deer Disease

View original blog at:

Nov 03, 2021

It seems to never fail in recent years that as Halloween approaches, someone writes about “zombie deer” in regards to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which affects cervids like deer, elk, and moose. As a deer hunter who cares deeply about the conservation of the species I hunt, I cringe every time I read this, as deer do not turn into zombies and trivializing the disease does little to stop it.  The new bipartisan CWD Management and Research Act, though, could help with what is really needed to combat CWD: research and funding.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a serious issue affecting wildlife and it has no easy solutions. CWD is a prion disease, related to “mad cow disease,” that leaves cervids like deer, elk, and moose emaciated, wasting away. It is always deadly, either directly or through the effects of its symptoms, though wildlife can be infected and spread the disease long before they show symptoms.

While it has not jumped the species barrier to humans yet, people are advised not to eat the meat of a deer or elk infected by CWD. Hunters in areas positive for CWD should test their game before cooking it. As the disease spreads, these concerns could also depress the hunting participation that pays for the bulk of wildlife conservation efforts. It will take scientific research into how its spread and funding for strapped state wildlife agencies trying to manage it. And that’s exactly what the recently-introduced bipartisan CWD Research and Management Act would provide.

CWD Research and Management Act
The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (HR 5608) authorizes $70 million annually in CWD funding, split evenly between management funding to be granted out to state wildlife and agriculture agencies and tribal nations, and funding for CWD applied research grants administered by the USDA. It was introduced by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and has already passed the House Agriculture Committee.

“Southwest Wisconsin has been ground zero for CWD in whitetail deer country for 20 years,” said Doug Duren, a southwest Wisconsin farmer and deer hunter who organized a carcass disposal program to reduce the spread of CWD. “For a variety of reasons, the disease continues to spread and grow in prevalence. In parts of the area prevalence has grown to 50% or more in bucks. Several counties are seeing 20-25% positive rates in all deer tested. Deer numbers are still high in many areas, but as disease prevalence grows, the deer herd is and will trend younger. We need to work on Healthy Deer Management and ensure this resource for the future.”

The management section of the act will prioritize funding where incidence of CWD is the highest, where jurisdictions have the highest financial commitment to managing, monitoring, surveying, and researching CWD, for efforts to develop comprehensive CWD management plans, to areas showing the greatest risk for initial occurrences of CWD, and to areas responding to new outbreaks of CWD.

“Although many hunters and concerned citizens have worked creatively and cooperatively with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to fight the disease by providing carcass disposal dumpsters, convenient testing drop-off kiosks and education on CWD, efforts have been limited by funding,” said Duren. “To fight CWD we need to ‘Buy time and Pay for science’ and the new funding included in the CWD Research and Management Act will help scientists, game managers, hunters and the public do just that.”

The research section will be administered by the USDA through cooperative agreements and prioritize methods to test CWD in live deer and the environment, testing methods on non-live cervids, genetic resistance to CWD, sustainable cervid harvest management practices to reduce CWD occurrence, and factors contributing to local occurrence of CWD.

The National Wildlife Federation adopted a resolution in 2017 calling for the creation of a federal Fish and Wildlife Disease Trust Fund to respond to wildlife diseases like CWD to provide rapid response funding to states for fish and wildlife disease outbreaks..

“Chronic wasting disease is one of the greatest threats facing deer, elk, and moose populations across the country, jeopardizing hunting opportunities, ecosystems, and our nation’s outdoor economy,” said Mike Leahy, director for wildlife, hunting, and fishing policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “We are grateful for Representatives Kind and Thompson’s steadfast leadership on this critical issue. The bipartisan Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act will help ensure state and Tribal agencies on the front lines of controlling this disease have the resources they need to better understand and stop its spread.”

The legislation is supported by the National Wildlife Federation, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the National Deer Association, the Mule Deer Foundation, the Boone & Crockett Club, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

As a Michigan deer hunter living in a state with CWD, I’m encouraged that real solutions and funding are advancing. I’m looking forward to deer camp in November, hopefully harvesting some venison, and having the deer tested for CWD to ensure that it’s safe to eat. Research and management funding is what our deer and elk need, not sensational headlines about “zombie deer.” The real effects of CWD are scary enough.

National Wildlife Federation Logo
Drew YoungeDyke is the Director of Conservation Partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, strengthening the federation’s partnerships with independent affiliate conservation organizations in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as managing media outreach and communications for the region.