TWF Action Alert: The White-tail Deer Breeding and Farming Act
One of the most dangerous pieces of legislation in modern history has been introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly. "The White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act" would legalize the breeding, purchase and sale of white-tailed deer as livestock for the purpose of penned hunting.
After last week's testimony in the House Conservation and Environment General sub-committee, action was deferred until Tuesday, March 29. TWRA and TWF representatives spoke in opposition to the bill, along with two of the nation's foremost experts on cervid and captive wildlife disease epidemiology from the University of Tennessee and the retired dean of agriculture at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Tennessee's chapter of The Wildlife Society - the professional organization of wildlife biologists - isstrongly opposed to the bill, and the Tennessee Cattlemen's Association has expressed serious concerns, citing impacts to domestic livestock from farmed wildlife operations in other states.
We need your help to defeat this bill. Please click here to send an email to the members of the committee, or click here to make a phone call. It only takes a second, and your voice will make a difference.
This bill would:
· Bring an industry to Tennessee which has been implicated in the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease and bovine tuberculosis in several states.
· Expose Tennessee to the costs other state's taxpayers and sportsmen are having to pay for managing these diseases (MI-$150mil., WI-$45mil., MN-nearly $80mil.) at a time when states are broke.
· Threaten our wild and native white-tailed deer with a disease (CWD) that has been shown to kill 1 out of every 4 deer in the wild in other states, and has no live test, is 100% fatal, has no known maximum incubation period, and cannot be eradicated once in the wild herd.
· Threaten the $500-700 million annual economic engine that is Tennessee's wild deer herd and wild deer hunting.
· Give the State Veterinarian in the Department of Agriculture the authority to depopulate wild white-tailed deer in order to protect farmed white-tailed deer without any notice, public process or consultation with TWRA.
· Make Tennessee a potential dumping ground for CWD infected deer by not requiring any CWD testing.
TWF Position Statement on HB1112/SB1568
"The White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act"
The Board of Directors of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation has voted unanimously to oppose the White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act (HB1112/SB1568) that has been introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Aside from the ethical concerns and public stigma surrounding captive animals that have been bred, bought, and sold to be shot in small enclosures or pens, the well-documented risk of disease associated with captive cervid populations represents a potentially devastating threat to our abundant natural herds of white-tailed deer, as well as to our state's domestic livestock and, arguably, to humans.
Federal and state agencies, universities and private organizations across the nation have spent hundreds of millions of dollars studying and fighting Chronic Wasting Disease, bovine tuberculosis, and other fatal diseases that have been discovered in captive cervids and in wild deer and elk populations near captive cervid facilities.
Hunting, photographing, and watching wildlife in Tennessee provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Tennessee's economy. Through TWF's Hunters for the Hungry program, Tennessee deer hunters and processors provide hundreds of thousands of meals each year through venison donations.
Our white-tailed deer herd - nearly extinct a half-century ago - is as healthy as it's ever been in recorded history. The restoration of our native wild elk population has been a nationally celebrated success.
TWF is proud to join with numerous conservation organizations, and countless veterinarians, wildlife biologists, communicable disease specialists, hunters, and wildlife lovers in voicing our opposition to legislation that would represent an unnecessary and potentially irresponsible risk to our state's priceless natural resources.
We respectfully request that responsible members of the Legislature and others with a serious concern about the potentially devastating impacts of this business review the many research materials available at our website, www.tnwf.org, before taking a final position on captive deer farming in Tennessee.
Members of the House Conservation and Environment Committee: