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Alliance for Public Wildlife's Living Legacy White Paper Series

Examining the complex science, evidence, issues, and implications relevant in matters of public policy affecting North American wildlife.

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The Challenge of CWD: Insidious and Dire

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a sister disease to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or ‘mad cow’ disease, is threatening our deer and elk. Declared a 'State of Emergency' in the U.S. in 2001, CWD was described by Canada's Expert Scientific Panel as "arguably the most important issue in the management of free-living deer and elk in North America."

Without immediate action we are heading for worst case outcomes that include severe population impacts, extinctions, crashing economies, and, although unlikely, potential transfers of CWD to people. This white paper examines the science behind the disease, the history and process of it's spread, and the public policy implications and recommendations for dealing with it.

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