Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is providing $546,535 in funding to help Minnesota combat Chronic Wasting Disease.

The disease is a contagious neurological disorder that affects deer and elk, posing a serious threat to deer populations across the country.

“This funding will help ensure that we can combat Chronic Wasting Disease and maintain our state’s outdoor recreation and economy,” Klobuchar stated in a news release. “CWD has become a real threat to our state’s deer and elk populations and continued efforts to bolster research into surveillance, prevention, and management practices are needed to stop this highly contagious disease, which can spread quickly among deer and elk populations.”

“Chronic Wasting Disease is a serious threat to the health of deer, elk and other animals — some of which are important food resources in communities,” Smith stated in the release. “This funding will help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa address and prevent spread of the disease. Looking forward, I'll keep supporting research at the USDA, University of Minnesota and other organizations that are working towards prevention and management.”

Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer, and moose. It has been found in some areas of North America including Canada and the United States. The symptoms can take up to a year to develop in an infected animal and typically are associated with drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness, and other neurological symptoms. It usually ends in death within two years of infection. The disease is contagious and fatal to animals.