Captive deer have long been a source of contention in Missouri. With many parties both for and against raising deer in captivity, the argument recently heated up as Senate Bill 506 took the spotlight. The intention of this bill was to classify captive deer as livestock, thereby changing the department from which deer farmers would receive oversight. The current classification allowed deer farm management to be monitored by the Department of Conservation, but Senate Bill 506 would change that. Under the new classification, deer would be deemed livestock and thus the overseeing of deer farmers would fall under the arm of the Department of Agriculture in Missouri.
The battle over deer farms is a lengthy one that shows no sign of coming to a halt despite the veto of Senate Bill 506 by Governor Jay Nixon. Supporters on both sides of the issue vow to continue the fight as needed. Those against it claim that hunting game in a contained area is unethical, as is breeding deer to enhance antler growth and size. Another objection is that captive deer can pass disease onto wild deer. On the other side of the coin, however, deer farmers stand firm that their animals are healthy and well cared for despite what the critics say. They also feel that the negative behaviors of a few have condemned them all, resulting in a Department of Conservation that wishes to put them out of business. It is because of this assumption that this battle will likely range on in another form.
As it was prior to the introduction of Senate Bill 506, the Department of Conservation was the governing body over facilities where captive deer were held and bred. Although those who wished to see the bill pass apparently expected leniency in the face of change, the Department of Agriculture, which would be taking over the supervision of deer as livestock, was opposed to the bill as well. They, much like Governor Nixon, seemed inclined to continue classifying whitetail deer in Missouri as exactly what they are: wild game.
Whether deer are contained in an enclosure or not, they are still considered wildlife after the veto of this bill. Support in favor of the veto came in the form of 108-52. This margin speaks volumes about the feelings towards captive deer in Missouri and the humane treatment of those animals. The hope now is that Missouri citizens will become champions of this cause and choose to take steps and make efforts on their own accord towards protection and conservation of the Missouri whitetail deer.
If you would like more information regarding Senate Bill 506, it can be found here. Information on one of the supporters, Missouri Whitetail Breeders and Hunting Ranch Association, is available here.
Are you pleased to see this outcome in regards to Senate Bill 506? Were you for or against it in the first place? If you are a supporter, do you plan to rally again to pass another type of similar legislation? Let us know in the comments.