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Deer farming arises in state legislation

Wildlife Correspondent

Published: Monday, November 12, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 16:11


Sam Greenhalg

Many people enjoy watching and hunting wildlife. The chase and the skill to hunt and find wildlife is a well-known passion to many wild lifers. However, for anyone that enjoys this when it comes to deer, a major issue has arisen throughout Tennessee.

A bill called “The White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act” is attempting to legalize deer farming in the state. This is presently illegal because deer are considered wildlife, which is owned by the public, but this bill would establish the private ownership of deer, which would treat our wildlife as an alternative livestock. However, treating wildlife like cattle is just the context of the bill.

This bill gives the Tennessee Department of Agriculture authority over deer farming. Deer can be kept in a minimum 8-foot fence and can be used for the production of meat, hunting, personal use or any other purpose.

The bill does not specify how big these areas should be, which increases nose-to-nose contact. An 8-foot fence has also been proven insufficient for preventing escape. Deer can be imported and exported across state lines, except from farms that have Chronic Wasting Disease in wild herds.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a very contagious disease, and there is no reliable live test. The protein known as prion can remain in the soil for years and is almost impossible to eradicate. It can be transmitted from nose-to-nose contact and nose-to-ground contact.

CWD has yet to be found in Tennessee, but if deer farming is legalized, it will drastically increase the chance that it is transported here. CWD can stay in the soil as long as 10 years and farmed herds only have to be monitored for five.

Not only does this bill open the door for this contagious lethal disease, but it also encourages illegal trade of antlers, hides and other deer products.

The illegal transportation of live deer is inevitable when profits can be made, even when convicted and a fine has to be paid. This also encourages the illegal capture and confinement of wild populations in Tennessee.

This bill will eliminate fair chase for many people and alter our deer populations. The thought of future populations needs to be taken into consideration. Also, if passed, will this lead to the privatization of other wildlife?

If you would like to become involved in this issue, there are several options available.  To just learn more about deer farming and other wildlife issues, email the president of the UTM Wildlife Society at  

Also, many have emailed and written letters to the members of the house committee and environment committee. Some people have also contacted the house of agriculture committee.

To find these committee members, you can go to and There, you can find contact information as well as extra information about deer farming. Many officials want what is best for their citizens, and in order for this deer farming bill to be defeated, the citizens are going to have to take a stand.  

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