On CWD, Joyce, GT get it right

On the landscape of total annual federal spending, the $15 million that two area congressmen are seeking for research into finding a cure for chronic wasting disease would be but a pittance.

Congress and the Trump administration would be remiss if they declined to make available — as quickly as possible — the funds that U.S. Reps. John Joyce, R-13th, and Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-15th, requested on April 5 by way of a bill that they’ve titled the Chronic Wasting Disease Research Act.

The disease is not just a recent “Pennsylvania thing.” It has shown up in mammals of the deer family in at least 26 states, with Pennsylvania being one of the more recently affected states.

Perhaps lawmakers in states where CWD appeared earlier were content with the scope of research efforts already underway and the funding that already had been allocated for those studies.

However, the ongoing “movement” of the disease to additional states has shown that research and funding were inadequate.

That is what Joyce and Thompson are striving to correct.

Joining the two area lawmakers in introducing the measure on April 5 were Texas Democrats Filemon Vela and Henry Cuellar.

That early bipartisan support for the bill hopefully will boost the prospects for its quick passage.

The contagious, fatal disease causes infected animals to exhibit changes in behavior and appearance. During the time before they die, they incur significant weight loss and lose coordination.

There’s no indication that the disease has geographical boundaries. While eating meat from infected deer is not now believed to pose a threat to humans, some officials recommend not doing so.

Hunters and landowners who oppose a Pennsylvania Game Commission effort to hopefully slow CWD’s spread — by baiting and killing more than 2,000 deer in Blair and Bedford counties — would be wise to reflect on the following question, even though it’s to be hoped that such drastic action can be avoided:

What if some mutation related to CWD eventually were to allow some new strain of the disease to begin affecting, for example, the rabbit, fox, coyote or pheasant population and then spread beyond? If that happened, a wildlife disaster could be in the making before anyone were to realize it.

It is believed deer don’t begin showing CWD symptoms for as long as 24 months after being infected.

Joyce and Thompson merit praise for launching their push on behalf of additional research backed up by their proposed significant infusion of funding.

Hopefully their colleagues in Congress and the Trump administration will agree — without delay.

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