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Joyce Again Acts To Support 13th District Hunters

Puts Forward Legislation Authorizing Additional $15 Million For Chronic Wasting Disease Research

Congressman John Joyce (PA-13) today put forward a second legislative proposal in as many months to support the 13th District’s hunting community and address the outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the region. The measure Joyce and his neighbor GT Thompson (PA-15) introduced today, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research Act (H.R. 2081), would authorize an additional $15 million in grant funding to states, institutions of higher education and other eligible entities that are invested in researching a cure for Chronic Wasting Disease.

In February Joyce cosponsored  HR 837, which instructs the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to partner with the National Academies of Science to study and identify the ways CWD is transmitted between wild, captive and farmed deer. The new legislation introduced today, Joyce points out, will allow additional investments in expedited research opportunities and also encourage a multitude of innovative studies.

“For the past couple of months I have heard from countless hunters from Blair and Bedford about Chronic Wasting Disease and the problematic actions the Pennsylvania Game Commission took to address it,” said Congressman Joyce. “While I recently offered an initial solution by cosponsoring legislation to implement a federal study to find a cure for the disease without harming hunters in PA-13, we can do even more on this issue. The legislation being introduced today will ensure Congress allocates sufficient and timely funding that will incentivize the innovation necessary to cure this terrible disease amongst our region’s deer.” 

The CWD issue became controversial when the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced the launch of a pilot study, which aimed to enlist U.S. Department of Agriculture sharp shooters to eliminate thousands of deer in the region. The goal of the pilot study was to examine if lowering the deer population can control the spread of CWD, which has no known cure at this point. The study was halted due to the lack of permission the sharp shooters were able to gain to access the private land necessary in order to set up baiting stations that would help them eliminate the deer.

However, the Altoona Mirror recently reported that the sharpshooters may have to return next year to finish the study. The possibility of the continuation of the Gaming Commission’s study brought more complaints from hunters in the 13th District, prompting Joyce to first get involved.

Rod Swope, Vice President of Sportsman for the Future, a group that opposes the Game Commission’s study praised Joyce’s continued commitment to finding an alternative CWD solution. “Congressman Joyce has been a strong advocate for our hunting community ever since we made him aware of the Chronic Wasting Disease issue,” said Swope. “I’m pleased that the he is again offering federal legislation that will provide even more money for CWD studies that do not result in an unnecessary purge of the region’s deer. While the Game Commission’s policies have shown that they do not seem to fully grasp the weight of our concerns, Congressman Joyce has made clear that he wants to listen to us and be our voices in Washington.”

In a March 25 Game Commission meeting, Commissioner Tim Layton claimed that the resistance the agency is facing from area hunters is a result of a “public relations” issue.

Joyce responded with a Facebook post writing, “The PA Game Commission is wrong. They don't have a public relations problem, they have a policy problem. Hunters in the 13th District want a CWD solution that doesn’t unnecessarily harm deer. We should be using science to address this issue and I will continue to work hard to secure federal funds to find a cure.”

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