It’s become one of the fastest growing industries in rural America. Deer farming is popular in many places including right here in the Mountain State.
Deer farming usually involves a fenced in piece of land that is populated with deer who are often raised for the purpose of hunting. Many farmers also sell by-products of the deer, including the antlers.
“We call them Godzilla deer because they are not the type of deer you find in the wild because of the genetic make up,” said a former president of a hunting organization, Tim Reed.
However, a bill just passed in the West Virginia Legislature changes who regulates this business.
In West Virginia, deer farms are regulated by W.Va‘s Department of Natural Resources. However, Senate Bill 237 will transfer control to the Department of Agriculture.
Fred Richter and Reed are both past presidents of several hunting organizations and outdoor writers. They said switching control from one department to another is a bad idea.
“Department of Agriculture does a good job with cattle and things that farmers do,” said Richter. “They will not regulate as tightly as DNR has done.”
They said without strict regulations, there is a greater potential for the spread of disease. The number one concern is Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD, which is similar to Mad Cow Disease. However, Republican State Senator Daniel Hall from Wyoming County said the switch makes sense because the deer are considered livestock.
“We just felt it was a natural fit to move it to an agency whose purpose is to promote agricultural products,” said Hall.
The bill has already passed and is awaiting the signature of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.