ACA Council Members
Alabama Deer Association
Alberta Elk Commission
Canadian Cervid Alliance
Colorado Elk Breeders Association
Deer Breeders Corp
Elk Research Council
Exotic Wildlife Association
Idaho Elk Breeders Association
Illinois Deer Farmers Association
Iowa Elk Breeders Association
Iowa Whitetail Deer Association
Indiana Deer and Elk Farmers Association
Kansas Cervid Breeders Association
Kentucky Alternative Livestock Association
Minnesota Deer Breeders Association
Minnesota Elk Breeders Association
Mississippi Deer Farmers Association
Missouri Elk Breeders Association
Missouri Whitetail Breeders & Hunting Ranch Assoc
Nebraska Elk Breeders Association
New Jersey Deer Farmers Association
New York Deer & Elk Farmers Association
North American Elk Breeders Association
North Carolina Deer & Elk Farmers Association
North Dakota Elk Growers Association
Oklahoma Whitetail Deer Farmers Association
Pennsylvania Deer Farmers Association
Pennsylvania Elk Breeders Association
Reindeer Owners & Breeders Association Harvey Saskatchewan Cervid Alliance
Second Ark Foundation
South Dakota Elk Breeders Association
Southeast Trophy Deer Association
Texas Deer Association
United Cervid Farmers of Indiana
West Virgina Deer Farmers Association
Whitetail Deer Farmers of Ohio
Whitetails of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Commerical Deer & Elk Farmers Assoc
Contact US American Cervid Alliance
4985 West Blue Hill Rd, Ayr, Nebraska, 68925
Call to Ban Deer and Elk Farming is Scaremongerin
Dear Editor: The call by Darrel Rowledge to ban deer and elk farming is based scaremongering, not facts. Game farms are tightly regulated to prevent the spread of diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease. Farms must individually track animals and conduct disease monitoring mandated by the state. Any farm that ships deer across state lines must abide by federal CWD regulations administered by the USDA and state agencies, which require testing of 100 percent of all mortalities over one year of age for CWD, with no positive tests for a minimum of five years. In fact, the vast majority of the industry has been on this level of testing for over 10 years. Further, all Wisconsin hunting ranches are required to submit yearly reports that include all animals harvested and tested for CWD.
The regulations work. USDA data collected between 1998 and 2012 show that the prevalence of CWD is significantly less on deer and elk farms than among free-ranging deer and elk. Farmers don’t want any diseases on their farms and work tirelessly to ensure the health of their animals — they’d go out of business if they did anything different.
The threat of CWD to people and the wild deer herd in Wisconsin is overstated. There have been no documented cases of CWD affecting humans or livestock. Meanwhile, researchers at UW determined that CWD has not appeared to affect the state’s wild population of deer.
Getting rid of game farms would hurt rural economies, but it wouldn’t have an effect on the fight against CWD. CWD is being spread by free-roaming deer across the country in an uncontrolled environment. Tools such as disease-testing help mitigate the spread of the disease, but aren’t being utilized enough by the state. It’s not the ultimate solution to containing CWD, but more testing is a good place to start.
Whitetails of Wisconsin • Gilman
American Cervid Alliance Enters Third Year
March 13, 2015 | Travis Lowe & Todd Landt Elected Moderator, Secretary
AYR, NE- The American Cervid Alliance recently convened to examine cervid industry issues and legislative updates from around the nation. The council also elected two new officers for 2015. Travis Lowe was elected to serve as the alliance’s moderator with Todd Landt elected to serve as the secretary/treasurer. Eric Mohlman decided not to seek another term as moderator. The Counsel thanks him for his service as the alliance’s moderator since its inception.
In January the American Cervid Alliance grew to 39 deer and elk member organizations. This illustrates tremendous growing support for the alliance. The ACA was originally created with 24 associations meeting via conference call to build a team network of communication and decision making. Since then, the alliancehas grown to incorporate over 90% of deer and elk associations with an active charter.
2014 proved to be a very successful year for the alliance with the hiring of a public relations firm to help offset negative media. Since July 2014, over eighty editorials have been written by cervid industry leaders and published in major media outlets. Charly Seale, who serves as the alliance’s media relations chairman, said this has had an impact. “We have gone from seeing five negative editorials a day to just a couple per week,” said Seale. The editorials use the best known science to refute the inaccurate claims written by opponents critical of the cervid industry. Seale
continued, “Most of us can write a great letter but if we can’t get it published then we are just preaching to our membership. This campaign has been huge and we are grateful for all those participating associations and individuals who make it possible.”
The ACA sees 2015 as a very successful year as more and more legislative battles are won just as they already have in states like West Virginia. All eyes are on Missouri as deer breeders work through the legislature and the courts to keep their industry alive. According to many in this industry, Missouri will be “ground zero” in the fight to strengthen the cervid industry across the nation.
The American Cervid Alliance appreciates Eric Mohlman’s work as moderator in the previous two years. Eric Mohlman told the council he has been elected chairman of the Elk Research Council but still plans to be an active ACA councilman. “This has been a great pleasure,” Mohlman told the council. “This alliance has accomplished a lot and we should all be proud to be involved.”
Travis Lowe, a lobbyist in Kansas, takes over as the alliance’s moderator. Lowe also serves as executive director of the North American Elk Breeders Association and the Elk Research Council. Todd Landt, past-president of the Iowa Whitetail Deer Association, has been elected to handle the finances as the alliance’s Secretary/Treasurer. Lowe and Landt see only good things for 2015 and a great future for the cervid industry.
Missouri Approves Tougher Rules for Captive Deer
Friday, October 17, 2014 | 9:55 a.m. CDT; | updated 11:48 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 17, 2014
BY David A. Lieb/The Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri officials approved tougher regulations for deer ranchers and hunting preserves Friday, including a ban on importing deer from elsewhere, in an attempt to stop the spread of disease.
Most of the new rules adopted by the Missouri Conservation Commission are expected to take effect Jan. 30, though existing facilities would have until June 30, 2016, to comply with stronger fencing requirements.
Missouri’s captive deer industry contends the regulations could cripple its business and plans to go to court to try to block them from taking effect.
“Closing the borders, we believe, is unconstitutional. It’s stopping free trade,” said Charly Seale, a spokesman for the American Cervid Alliance, which is helping finance the litigation.
Missouri has a robust deer-hunting industry, with a wild herd estimated at 1.4 million deer and more than 500,000 annual hunters. It’s also become one of the top states for raising captive deer used by fenced-in hunting preserves, with more than 200 licensed breeders and 44 hunting preserves.
The conservation agency, which regulates hunting, fishing and wildlife, began pursuing tougher requirements for captive deer businesses because of concerns about chronic wasting disease, a contagious neurological ailment that can be fatal to deer.
Since 2010, there have been 11 cases of chronic wasting disease among captive deer in north-central Missouri, and 10 cases among wild deer found within 2 miles of one of those private deer facilities, the conservation agency said.
The new regulations aim to prevent the spread of disease by limiting the movement of captive deer and their potential to come near wild deer.
“We’ve worked hard to land in a place where we feel like strikes the right balance” while striving to “protect the resources of this state for future generations,” said Commission Chairman James Blair IV, of St. Louis.
In addition to banning the importation of deer, Missouri’s new regulations will require testing for chronic wasting disease on deer at least 6 months old that die in captivity. That’s tougher than federal guidelines for testing dead deer at least 12 months of age, Seale said.
As initially approved in June, Missouri’s rules would have required new facilities to have two rows of fences, with the perimeter one at least 10 feet tall. The final version sticks with the current standard of a single, 8-foot tall fence but includes a more detailed description of the fencing materials that must be used.
The final version also scales back a new record-keeping requirement to 5 years instead of 15 as originally proposed.
But that wasn’t enough to satisfy members of the captive deer industry, who contend they should be regulated by the state Department of Agriculture just like cattle, hog and poultry farmers.
State conservation officials “don’t have the authority to make those rules on our animals,” said Sam James, president of the Missouri Deer Association. “The real question is what are our animals - are they wildlife, or are they privately owned property?”
State legislators who were frustrated with the conservation agency’s proposed regulations sought to settle the matter themselves by passing a bill in May defining captive deer as “livestock.” That could have stripped the conservation agency of its authority to regulate them. But Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, and lawmakers in September fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for a veto override.
Deer ranching in Texas is regulated, accountable
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 | By Chase Clark- Pres. of Texas Deer Association
When I considered how to reply to Jenny Sanders’ false and uneducated portrayal of deer farming in Texas in a Dec. 13 column, I just didn’t know where to begin. Let’s start with the basics.
Deer ranching and intensive deer management have been in practice in Texas for decades and have had a tremendous, positive impact on this state, both in terms of the economy and on the health and strength of our whitetail population. Through innovative management techniques, this state’s wildlife resources have thrived after decades of mismanagement. Texas deer ranchers and hunters have seen incredible gains in both the quality and quantity of deer.
Far from being a cottage industry, it has a $650 million annual economic impact in this state — that’s more than the citrus and rice industries combined.
Sanders claims that our industry is under-regulated and leads to bad practices. This couldn’t be further from reality. Deer ranching is highly regulated, and the measures we support are already the law of the land in our state and have been for many years. As an industry, we provide answers and solutions backed by facts and science. We operate under a strict code of ethics and demand that our membership does the same. We don’t have an option to do it any other way; it’s how our businesses have to operate. The state requires us to be accountable.
Deer farmers already face strict regulation. All farmed deer or elk in Texas must have a visible ear tag, a permanently tattooed identification number or an official USDA or RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag. Elk imported into the state must have been part of a monitoring program for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) for at least five years, designed to mitigate the risk of this disease. Whitetail and mule deer cannot be transported around the state without a special permit.
Federally, the USDA administers a CWD monitoring program. Herd owners must have fencing, provide individual ID for deer and elk, and perform regular inventories. There’s also a regulatory certification and accreditation for tuberculosis and brucellosis. The net result of all this regulation is that farmed deer are probably the healthiest deer in Texas and the rest of the country. Recruitment numbers in breeding operations far surpass those of pasture herds.
Sanders also calls to “end cavalier use of drugs and no safety net to protect human health.” Again, this is false. Deer ranchers are required by law to have a working relationship with a licensed, accredited Texas veterinarian prior to administering drugs to their herd.
Deer ranching in Texas is a proactive industry in deer research, including active current studies at both Texas A&M and Texas Tech universities. A recent study from Texas A&M University, in cooperation with industry participants, found no harmful levels of three common drugs used in deer breeding after 11 days. These studies are incredibly expensive and require the input and financial support of many participants to be successful. But you won’t find Sanders or any of her supporters on the co-operator or donation lists for any of the studies underway.
Sanders’ “coalition” is nothing more than a Facebook page. Her vocal minority is far from representative of the vast majority of sportsmen. She represents an elitist group of environmental activists with a specific agenda. One recent poll of hunters by Outdoor Life magazine found that 62 percent believe that the high-fence hunting industry shouldn’t be banned, even if they’re not personally interested in participating in them. Only 17 percent were in favor of such a ban.
Sanders is trying to use bad science, scaremongering, and one or two bad actors to smear an entire industry. It’s unjustified for them to try to use the Legislature or fool the public into supporting their private interests and ideology.
CWD Being Mishandled at State Level
October 24, 2014 | Ayr, Nebraska | The St. James Leader Journal | By Charly Seale
Bill Cooper misinterprets a recent situation at an Iowa deer farm in order to mistakenly advocate for flawed regulations of deer farms in Missouri. The Iowa farm did have a number of animals test positive for CWD—but that’s the fault of the state, not the farmers. Initially, one animal tested positive for CWD in 2012. Iowa’s protocol was to depopulate the farm within 60 days, but the state didn’t follow its own protocol and even rejected a plan from the farmers to get rid of the animals through hunting on a private ranch (even though this movement was approved by USDA and had no indemnification cost to the state). Two years later the deer were finally depopulated, but the state’s actions led to the disease spreading among the herd at a higher prevalence rate.
The outbreak was caught and stopped, all animals were accounted for. The CWD certification program worked—but politics got in the way.
Cooper takes issue with an indemnity paid to the Iowa farm. The indemnity is there because the government is taking someone’s private property—in this case, the
government is destroying deer to prevent the spread of disease. It’s the same as with government indemnities for bovine tuberculosis or scrapie, and it’s the same as when the government seizes land to build a highway and compensates the landowner.
We have individual property rights under the Constitution. In Missouri, however, the Department of Conservation has proposed regulations for deer farms that seem to exceed its authority, such as prohibiting new deer farms in certain locations and regulating even who finances them. Businesses can and should be regulated, but they shouldn’t be arbitrarily regulated to death by a wildlife agency. That’s why it makes sense to transfer oversight of deer farms from the Missouri Department of Conservation to the Department of Agriculture, which has more livestock and disease expertise.
Free-range Deer Bigger Issue in Halting CWD
November 17, 2014 | London, Ohio | Letters The Journal Gazette | By Curt Waldvogel
Glenn Lange of the Indiana Wildlife Federation doesn’t seem to understand the issue of chronic wasting disease (Letters, Nov. 6). He uses the recent discovery of CWD in an Ohio deer ranch as a reason to smear all deer farming. However, a regulated industry that is testing for disease with the purpose of eradicating has earned anything but condemnation.
Deer farms that ship animals across state lines must abide by the CWD certification program administered by the Department of Agriculture, which requires that the facility test all of its eligible mortalities (animals older than 1 year) for CWD for a minimum of five years with no positive tests. This rule applies to any farm shipping deer into Indiana.
The situation in Ohio shows that the regulations worked – if CWD is found on a farm, the facility can be quarantined and depopulated.
Lange is also incorrect in stating that CWD is “always fatal.” According to the USDA, it takes almost three years on average for a deer with CWD to die from the disease, and animals often die by other means.
Lange instead should focus his concern on the lack of testing of free-range deer by the state. While deer farmers are testing 100â percent of eligible animals for CWD, Indiana (and many other states) tests fewer than 1 percent of free-ranging animals for CWD. It may be that CWD is spreading in the wild to deer farms, not the other way around – and it’s impossible to control a disease if you’re not testing for it.
No deer farmer wants CWD on his farm because it hurts his business and his brand. Lange and others should stop the political finger-pointing and focus on real solutions.
Positive Steps for North Carolina
Deer & Elk Farmers
Legislature Approves Rules to Expand Cervid Industry
August 10, 2014
Last week, leaders of the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives negotiated differences between their budget bills, which contained language that would offer common sense reform for cervid farmers. Included in the bill was language to transfer regulatory control of farmed deer and elk to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, rather than the state's wildlife commission. Farmed deer and elk are commonly regulated by agriculture departments across the nation including the federal level with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The North Carolina Deer Farmers Association, along with several other cervid associations, advocated for the change since the agriculture department most efficiently addresses the needs of their industry. The North Carolina Wildlife Commission opposed the transfer. After weeks of deliberation, legislative leaders agreed on a compromise to allow oversight from the Wildlife Commission but imposed several requirements on the commission. Language was included to ensure the Wildlife Commission use the USDA cervid regulations as its guide and not impose any requirements that exceed the USDA rules. The Wildlife Commission now must issue permits to new deer and elk farmers and the ability to construct or expand their facilities.
In addition, there were positive changes made for commerce for cervid producers. Producers will be able to sell their deer and elk to other producers within the state and able to sell deer and elk products out of the state. These products include mounts, hard antler, velvet antler, and deer urine for hunters.
The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future. The legislation marks significant progress for the North Carolina Deer & Elk Farmers Association and cervid producers in the Coastal South.
Sponsors of Ag Bills Expect to
Overturn Vetoes, Defend Deer Language
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Governor Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed two agriculture omnibus bills because they contain language that would transfer regulatory control of captive deer to the Department of Agriculture. The sponsors of those bills say those vetoes will be easy overrides in September.
Nixon says the bill violates the state’s Constitution, which says the Department of Conservation is responsible for the control and regulation of wildlife.
Senator Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) says the bill is worded so as not to violate the Constitution by specifying that captive deer are not wild.
“Actually if you look at the Constitution, it says, ‘wildlife,’” says Munzlinger. “If you look at the (legislation’s proposed) definition of ‘livestock,’ it says ‘anything not taken from the wild,’ so I think if you look at clear definitions the governor was clearly wrong in his veto of Senate Bill 506.”
Backers of the captive deer provisions in that bill and House Bill 1326 say it would protect hunting preserve operators from new regulations that would put some of them out of business. Proponents of those new regulations say they are needed to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) from imported captive deer into the wild population.
Munzlinger accuses the Governor of standing against private property rights, and the House sponsor of those bills, Representative Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany), agrees.
Guernsey says the new regulations, “literally allow unaccountable, unelected officials a power grab to confiscate and regulate private property and farmers specifically, unlike we’ve ever seen before in the State of Missouri.”
Nixon, in his veto messages on the bills, calls it, “unfortunate,” that the legislature amended the deer language to, “two pieces of legislation that otherwise contain worthy provisions advancing Missouri agriculture.”
Munzlinger says the deer language “fit right in” with the bills.
“I think it was a good part, too,” says Munzlinger. “It was another sector of our agriculture industry – a private property rights issue that is related to agriculture because they are livestock. They are owned by those individuals, taken care of by those individuals.”
Munzlinger adds, “I cannot believe this governor came out against private property rights. That’s exactly what it is. We made a clear distinction that these were captive cervids that were property of the owners, and yet he didn’t clarify between ‘captive’ and ‘wild’ in his comments.”
Both lawmakers believe the vetoes will be overridden in September’s veto session.
Guernsey tells Missourinet, “We’ve passed and overridden the governor’s veto on agriculture legislation before. This isn’t the first time the governor’s vetoed agriculture’s priorities. I’m confident that if you look at the votes on all ten of these individual proposals, they passed out of the House and the Senate with pretty significant margins in a bipartisan fashion, so we’re going to do everything we can to override the veto.”
(Mike Lear, Missourinet)