A North Carolina bill considers expanding deer farming; many fear a CWD outbreak.
The North Carolina Farm Act of 2015 includes a provision that transfers control of captive deer farming to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This new Republican-sponsored bill considers expanding raising deer on farms for hunting purposes, which is opposed by several pro-hunting groups. Currently, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission regulates deer farming in the State.
Controversy surrounding the bill stems from several issues. There is debate over who is best qualified to manage deer in the state. Additionally, the concept of humans raising deer for hunting purposes irks some hunting advocates. There is also serious concern about deer farms becoming incubators for chronic wasting disease, which may then spread to wild deer populations.
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation opposes the bill.
“We feel strongly that the commercialization and exploitation of public trust resources is extremely damaging to professional, science-based wildlife management of our native deer herds,” the conservation group stated in a news release.
Kip Adams, of the Deer Management Association, states that the deer-farming industry hurts hunters. According to Adams, hunting farm-raised deer undermines ethical, fair-chase hunting. He also states that these deer factories are a likely vector for chronic wasting disease in wild deer populations.
CWD is an extremely contagious disease that has been found in farm-raised deer and elk herds in the United States and Canada. The disease is always fatal and has forced states to either quarantine or slaughter the impacted herds. The disease has not yet been discovered in North Carolina. Farm-raised deer in North Carolina can be shipped to other states for canned hunts on private lands.
Last month, Kentucky banned captive deer imports from Indiana in order to prevent CWD from entering the Blue Grass State. Kentucky had previously banned captive deer imports from Pennsylvania and Ohio due to CWD outbreaks on deer farms in those states. Other states that have banned imports of live cervids include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, and Florida.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has repeatedly tried to rein in deer farming. With the North Carolina Farm Act of 2015, the Commission’s concern over the potential outbreak of CWD is being challenged by the deer-farming lobby.