Texas Chapter issues position statement on captive cervids

By Laura Bies

The Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society issued a position statement on captive cervids. ©Marilyn Brinker

In response to growing concerns by wildlife professionals regarding the negative biological impacts that the spread of diseases such as chronic wasting disease can have on native species like white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society issued a position statement entitled “Support for improvement of captive-bred deer identification system.”

In addition to concerns about the spread of disease, the Chapter is concerned about the effects on free-ranging deer populations from the release or escape of captive-bred deer. The Chapter notes that native wildlife is considered a public resource in Texas and it supports the management of all public trust wildlife in the state by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The statement notes that Texas law does not clearly define jurisdiction or enforceability of the current captive-bred deer identification system, and the Chapter encouraged clarification and strengthening of the system. The current system was put in place to track captive-bred deer that move between facilities and to help control the spread of CWD. Recently, attempts have been made through the Texas legislature to remove the tagging requirement, limiting the ability to track captive-bred deer.

The position statement calls for a “standardized, externally visible identification system for all captive-bred white-tailed and mule deer that are either inside of breeding pens or will be released onto a registered release site … to protect against the spread of cervid diseases, track the use of pharmaceuticals in captive-bred deer, and preserve the hunting heritage of Texas.”

Captive-deer breeding is big business in Texas, with 1,300 deer breeding businesses contributing to the $2.2 billion hunting industry in the state.

The Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society represents approximately 900 wildlife and natural resource professionals across the state. Its mission is to promote sound wildlife management and conservation based on scientific and biological principles.

Read TWS’ position statement on Confinement of Wild Ungulates within High Fences.

Read TWS’ technical review on Biological and Social Issues Related to Confinement of Wild Ungulates.

Read TWS’ fact sheet on captive cervid breeding.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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