Missouri Conservation Commission Suspends Issuing Deer Permits

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HOWARD COUNTY - A Howard County deer farmer told KOMU 8 News Tuesday that he's worried about the future of the deer farming industry. 

The Missouri Conservation Commission stopped issuing permits for new big-game hunting facilities and new breeding facilities that hold white-tailed or mule deer on Aug. 24. Officials say it's to help protect deer from coming down with fatal chronic wasting disease, a contagious illness that attacks the nervous system. 

"They believe that deer farms pose a threat to the wild deer population," deer farmer Charles James said. "We totally disagree with that theory. I think our deer are much more healthier than free-ranging deer in the state."

According to James, his deer are regularly tested for several diseases, including chronic wasting disease and tuberculosis.

"Captive white-tailed deer are the most monitored, most tested, most documented and healthy deer in the United States," James said. "And this industry is the healthiest industry in the United States. I get pretty emotional about it because people just don't understand. They think that we're raising deer that are carrying diseases and they're simply not."

The first two Missouri cases of fatal chronic wasting disease happened in 2010 and 2011 at two private hunting preserves in northern Missouri.

"The only way a good industry can survive is to grow, and you grow by adding new deer breeders in the state," James said. "And they very much limited that. I think their goal is to get rid of us over the next 5-10 years."

The suspension does not affect breeders who already hold permits, or hunting ranches with existing facilities.