At one time believe it or not Kentucky was running short on deer and we needed to import some to fatten the landscape so to speak. This helped cervid farms, or "Deer farms," to grow or should have. According to Wikipedia "a deer farm is a fenced piece of land suitable for grazing that is populated with deer raised for the purpose of hunting tourism or as livestock. Similar species such as elk, moose and even reindeer may be farmed in this method as well, sometimes on the same land..."
The technique has expanded in recent years due to the rising popularity of venison.
Though not without some problems the importation of elk and deer brought new problems in Kentucky. The deer population was going through their own version of "mad cow disease" referred to as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The potential spread of this disease to our landscape by imported deer and elk, and the great harm it would cause, forced Gov. Patton on November 12, 2002 to issue Executive Order 2002-1256 against issuing new captive cervid permits. It states that the department “shall not issue any new permits for the holding of cervids, nor shall it issue any shooting preserve permits for any species other than birds.” It is clear that Patton wanted NO importation due to the dangers of CWD, and clearly said no new permits.
With this moratorium in place one would expect this practice to discontinue right? Wrong.
In fact 19 such special permits were issued AFTER the moratorium by Gov. Patton and continued through at least October 2003 clearly showing the intent to IGNORE this directive.
The Commissioner at this time was Tom Bennett who I am told actively sought the moratorium from Patton. If Bennett as head of the KDFWR was for the moratorium then how could 19 special permits be issued?
Because of his Deputy Commissionerat the time, and current Commissioner Jon Gassett.
Gassett was in charge of the big game project and had authority to issue these special permits and apparently felt he could do what he wanted without worry of oversight or accountability thus creating the potential for serious disease in our elk and deer herds.
Why would Jon Gassett, as Deputy Commissioner, knowingly violate the law? Especially since his boss Commissioner Tom Bennett fought against importation? Well from what I am told by sources it all starts with elk importation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation funds. Many believe their influence is behind tis debacle. I cannot do justice to the problems inherent with this belief in this article. It will be dealt with separately in a future article but from what I gather this group is against Cervid Farms and helps fund the importation of elk from the Western United States to the Eastern US.
I have openly admitted I personally am an avid gun owner, but not a hunter, I do enjoy deer meat tremendously. I have family who hunt regularly and can prepare deer meat that is just beyond belief in taste.
So would I be affected by a CWD laden deer? From what I understand there is no harm to humans.
CWD is basically harmful only to the deer and elk population itself not to humans nor can it be crossed to other livestock. Which begs the question.
Why then would the KDFWR kill animals that are being transported through our state and not imported here?
You can read here for the story: Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources - Tennessee Man Charged with Six Felony Counts of Importing Elk and Deer
Apparently this happened when a driver was transporting deer and elk from Missouri to Tennessee in September of 2007. While filling up with gas at a station someone called and reported the animals were being transported. Fish and Wildlife showed up and the man was arrested on 6 felony counts of illegal transportation of elk etc. According to sources there was actual legal paperwork that was ignored.
Though the State had an importation rule in place at the time there was not a transportation rule. The animals were killed and Cooper went to court.
The KDFWR decided to pursue the case on appeal and Cooper won again. The case, as I am told, has been decided by the Supreme Court and sided with Cooper. So how much did this legal play cost the sportsmen of Kentucky? Open records request will help answer this but in the meantime we must question the reasons why this was not handled better and why we would waste resources yet again.
As if this was not bad enough Governor Steve Beshear was asked to issue an emergency order against transportation of deer and elk into the State and he did.
He did so without any verification that this was needed. He did not even contact the State Veterinarian to see if it was necessary. It would seem like a logical place to start would it not? Why would anyone with the power of the Governor issue an emergency order without being able to justify why? That is another story as we get closer to the 2011 elections. In the meantime the emergency order was overturned by the Courts as it should have been.
Many believe because of these type of actions the legislature turned the matter of oversight of imported deer and elk to the Department of Agriculture who now require mandatory certification of any importations.
I, for one, can see why.
In the meantime SB64 is on the plate looking for oversight and accountability.....
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