What explains the fact that we have a glut of white-tailed deer in this country, yet an estimated 85% of the venison sold in restaurants and at meat counters is imported from farms in New Zealand?
The Kiwis tout the high quality of their meat. But the main reason is that, unlike hunters in other countries, Americans are not allowed to sell their own wild game meat. The “wild game” on our restaurant menus isn’t wild—it’s farm-raised, or else the chef is breaking laws that ban such sales. The laws were passed as part of a campaign in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to end the devastation of wild populations by commercial hunters.
But times have changed. On Oct. 7, scientists at the Wildlife Society’s annual meeting in Milwaukee broached the idea—heretical to many—of allowing the limited sale of wild venison again as an incentive to reduce deer numbers and damage.