APHIS Revises CWD Program Standards

CWD affects cervids such as these mule deer fawns. ( John Maday )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is revising its Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Program Standards to better meet the needs of both animal health officials and the cervid industry. To ensure consistent terminology, APHIS is aligning the language in the program standards with the Code of Federal Regulations.

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), a progressive and fatal brain disease that can affect cervids, including deer, elk and moose. The CWD Herd Certification Program (HCP) provides a national approach to control CWD in farmed cervids. The program is a cooperative effort between APHIS, State animal health and wildlife agencies, and farmed cervid owners. APHIS coordinates with State agencies to encourage cervid owners to certify their herds and comply with the CWD Herd Certification Program Standards to prevent the introduction and spread of CWD.

The revisions cover a variety of topics including: adding guidelines for live animal testing in specific situations, clarifying how disease investigations should be handled, aligning with the Code of Federal Regulations’ requirement for mortality testing, simplifying fencing requirements, adding biosecurity recommendations, and describing our intended approach to update the CWD-susceptible species list. APHIS also outlines factors for determining indemnity and includes a table that outlines possible reductions in herd certification status that States may consider for herd owners that do not submit required mortality surveillance samples or consistently submit unusable testing samples.

The revisions are based on input from internal and external stakeholders, including scientific experts on CWD and TSEs from the United States and Canada, a working group of State and Federal animal health and wildlife officials and representatives from the farmed cervid industry. These stakeholders reviewed the program standards, identified sections for revision, and provided options for those revisions.

APHIS issued a summary of the working group’s discussions and recommended changes to the CWD Program Standards at the 2016 United States Animal Health Association meeting. The summary was available for public comment and 35 written comments were received.

This notice is on display in the Federal Register. Members of the public will be able to view the evaluation and submit comments beginning March 29. The revised program standards will take effect after the 30-day comment period ends, unless members of the public raise significant regulatory issues during the comment period.

APHIS will accept comments until April 30. Comments may be submitted through the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0011.
  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2018-0011, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
  • Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0011 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.
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