Due to a rapidly growing deer population, New Jersey is considering legalizing commercial deer hunting to help keep deer numbers under control.
Monmouth County Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande is proposing a new law legalizing commercial deer hunting. If enacted, this new law would allow hunters to sell deer venison to butchers, supermarkets and restaurants.
New Jersey has an extremely large (and growing) deer population. Since the state is so densely populated, this is leading to a large number of conflicts between deer and humans.
For instance, there were over 26,000 automobile accidents involving deer in New Jersey in 2013. In addition to the people killed and injured in these accidents, New Jersey has some of the highest infection rates for Lyme disease in the country, with over 3,000 people infected last year.
In some areas, deer populations are so dense that they are destroying much of the natural foliage from over browsing. These extremely concentrated populations of deer are also very vulnerable to epidemics of disease.
Though the state has increased the length of the deer hunting season, increased bag limits, and removed other hunting restrictions in recent years, sport hunting has failed to control the population in some parts of the state. In response, some lawmakers are considering commercial deer hunting as another way to control the deer population.
Under current law in all 50 states (and in keeping with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation), it is illegal to sell meat from any wild game, including deer. As a result, all of the venison for sale in butcher shops and in restaurants is farm raised. Though some of this venison comes from American game farms, the majority of the meat is imported from overseas.
This is a very controversial issue. However, by legalizing commercial hunting, these lawmakers are trying to achieve three things: reduce the deer population in the interests of public health (deer/automobile collisions and lyme disease), prevent deer from over browsing certain areas and permanently damaging the natural foliage, and gain an economic stimulus though the sale of surplus deer to butcher shops, supermarkets, and restaurants.
The lawmakers say it is time for the ban on commercial hunting to be lifted.