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Lawmakers Urge USDA to Halt Interstate Transport of Captive Deer

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Lawmakers Urge USDA to Halt Interstate Transport of Captive Deer

What’s your thoughts on high fence facilities?

Last Friday, six members of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and leading US Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials, urging them to consider “immediate action” against the interstate transport of deer. In the letter, which was obtained by The Indianapolis Star, the lawmakers pointed to concerns that the transportation of captive deer risk spreading disease to wild populations and livestock.

“Interstate commerce in captive cervids has exploded in recent decades, as canned-hunting facilities seek to increase their profits by breeding deer and elk with abnormally-large antlers and stocking large herds so they can guarantee a kill,” the letter states. “Animals raised at canned-hunting facilities often are accustomed to human presence and therefore do not flee at the sight of trophy hunters. The lack of fair-chase in these operations has led hunting groups like Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and the Izaak Walton League to oppose such unsporting activities.”

The issue of high-fence hunting has long pitted state wildlife agencies against captive deer breeders, locking states like Indiana in long and complicated legal battles. Those who oppose high-fence hunting ranches point to the animals’ susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD) and bovine tuberculosis. Some hunters also say that hunting game within an enclosed space is unethical. However, those who support high-fence facilities view them as great ways to harvest exotic animals and allow older or disabled hunters easier access. Larger facilities also have thousands of acres at their disposal. At such ranches, supporters say the deer are just as wild as those beyond the fence.

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