Action Alert: Minnesota HF 1727 – Captive Deer Provisions & Authority

Minnesota House File 1727 (HF 1727), introduced by a number of Representatives, contains multiple provisions that tighten regulations with respect to captive deer herds in an effort to curb the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Minnesota. Specifically, the bill:

  1. Establishes the requirement that commercially farmed white-tailed deer must be confined by two or more perimeter fences, with each perimeter fence at least 120 inches in height;
  2. Prohibits the Board of Animal Health (BAH) from issuing new registrations for the possession of captive white-tailed deer;
  3. Prohibits the movement of farmed white-tailed deer from any premises to another location; and
  4. Transfers the responsibilities for administering and enforcing statutes and rules related to captive cervids from BAH to the commissioner of natural resources.

Additionally, the bill amends the existing statute with more strict language with respect to escaped farmed cervids procedures, farmed cervids identification requirements and cervid carcass transportation rules.

The National Deer Association (NDA) outlines deer diseases as a critical focus area and slowing the spread of CWD is of primary concern. CWD is one of the largest threats to wildlife conservation that we have encountered over the last century. As many states have learned, preventing the spread of this always-fatal disease is a daunting task and early detection and rapid response once the disease is found is critical for long-term management. HF 1727, through strong provisions, could help Minnesota in its fight against CWD.

Limiting contact between captive and wild deer is crucial. Double fencing for commercial deer farms prevents the escape of farmed deer or entry into the premises by wild deer, and it also prevents contact between farmed and wild herds. Similarly, the prohibitions of new registrations for captive herds and the movement of farmed white-tailed deer from any premises to another location will aid in limiting the spread of the disease and reduce the opportunity for contact between captive and wild deer.

Transferring responsibilities for administering and enforcing statutes and rules related to captive cervids from BAH to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) will ensure uniformity and efficiency in managing deer and CWD in the state. Currently, BAH has authority over captive deer, while DNR has authority over wild deer. Transfer of BAH’s authority over captive deer to DNR ensures that measures to protect Minnesota’s deer from CWD are consistent. Certainly, this transfer will require substantial staffing and funding resources, so a clear, upfront plan is necessary.

Please considering joining NDA in support of this important legislation. HF 1727 contains multiple provisions that will help curb the spread of CWD in Minnesota and doing so early and rapidly is critical. CLICK HERE to ask your lawmakers to vote YEA on the bill.

 


About Torin Miller

Torin Miller is a licensed attorney and NDA’s Director of Policy. He works at the intersection of conservation and natural resources law, policy, advocacy and education. He has a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn State University, a J.D. from Penn State Law and is finishing a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State. Torin came to NDA via the National Deer Alliance, where he served as the Policy and Outreach Coordinator.