Over the past few years, Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resource Policy and Finance Committee minority lead and avid deerhunter Rick Hansen, DFL-S. St. Paul, has emerged as a champion for protecting Minnesota's wild deer herd from the devastating consequences of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
In Minnesota, CDW has entered the wild herd via deer farms. Bluestem noted the regulatory failure--as reported in the Star Tribune--in our recent post, Will Winona County wild whitetails be the walking dead? CWD & a deer farmer's defective fences.
The Winona County regulatory failure (which deer hunters' dollars will now address as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is forced to monitor wild deer for CWD in the area around the farm) was brought up in Thursday's meeting of the environment committee as it heard testimony on HF3350, a bill offered by committee chair Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, that would increase the amount of deer license revenue dedicated to the state's deer management account (See full discussion in the Youtube at the bottom of this post).
Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL Roseville, and Hansen wanted to establish who would be paying for efforts to quarantine and eradicate CWD in the wild herd and the cost of this effort to various DNR deer management and emergency accounts. Yes: while the deerhunters aren't responsible for introducing CWD to the public wild herd, they're largely the ones paying for the damage (some Legacy dollars have also been spent).
But there's more: a meeting of natural resource committee leader and agency personnel put together yesterday to discuss the CWD crisis didn't include invitations to minority party committee leads. In the video below, Hansen asks if a meeting is taking place. Deputy Commissioner Bob Meier admits there's a meeting. Hansen asks if the minority leads are invited--then Fabian gets testy, telling Hansen he can pick up the phone.
This from the party whose leaders whine about a years-long process about nitrogen fertilizer rulemaking involving hundreds of people at dozens of meeting leaving people out. Perhaps Republicans jump to this rhetoric because it's the way they roll when in power.
Here's the clip:
At the end of the clip above, Fabian admits that CWD is a real problem when agencies (the DNR, the state Department of Agriculture and the Board of Animal Health are going in different directions). What he doesn't acknowledge are the years of Republican chairs of the house environment committee (and others) shooting down efforts by Hansen to address the problem.
Perhaps this nonsense can just stop. Hansen is quite willing to work with his right-ward peers; indeed, his latest bill offering on farmed deer, HF3827, is broadly bipartisan.
Here's the entire discussion of the cost of combating CWD--a problem that enthusiatic deer hunter Becker-Finn notes isn't the fault of deer hunters but rather has its origin in Minnesota in deer farms--from the committee meeting (same thumbnail as above, but the YouTube will start at an earlier moment in the discussion):
Photo: A deer suffering from CWD. The disorder may limit the ability of people to eat venison, as we learned in US health authorities are warning that 'zombie deer disease' is spreading — and some fear it could start infecting humans. Minnesota is mentioned in the article.
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