The economic costs of chronic wasting disease in the United States




Cervids are economically important to a wide range of stakeholders and rights holders in the United States. The continued expansion of chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurodegenerative disease affecting wild and farmed cervids, poses a direct and indirect threat to state and federal government agency operations and cervid related economic activity. However, the scale of this disease’s direct economic costs is largely unknown. I synthesized existing publicly available data and stakeholder-provided data to estimate CWD’s costs within the continental United States. Federal government agencies collectively spent over $284.1 million on CWD-related efforts between 2000 and 2021, with $203.6 million of this total being spent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. In fiscal year 2020, state natural resources agencies and state agriculture/animal health agencies spent over $25.5 million and $2.9 million, respectively, on CWD-related work. Natural resources agencies in states with known CWD cases spent over 8 times as much on CWD as agencies from states with no known cases. The farmed cervid industry spent at least $307,950 on CWD sampling in 2020, though a lack of available data prevented a complete assessment of costs to this industry. Based on limited data, CWD’s economic effects on the hunting industry (i.e., outfitters and guides, companies leasing land to cervid hunters), may be negligible at this time. Overall, however, the realized economic costs of CWD appear considerable, and it is likely that the number of stakeholders financially affected by this disease and regulations meant to stem its spread will continue to grow. By understanding the current economic impacts of CWD, we are better positioned to assess the costs and benefits of investments in management and research and to understand the magnitude of this disease’s broader societal impacts.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The economic costs of chronic wasting disease in the United States
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0278366
Volume 17
Issue 12
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher PLoS
Contributing office(s) Science and Decisions Center
Description e0278366, 18 p.
Country United States
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