TWRA Fights Deer Imports Bill

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is fighting a bill that would allow private game preserves in Tennessee to import white-tail deer, arguing that such a move might introduce Chronic Wasting Disease into wild deer populations in the state. The bill requires that such deer be tested for CWD, but TWRA argues it is too risky.

The bill has now been amended to say that deer cannot be imported into Tennessee by any entity (including TWRA) from a state in which there has been an outbreak of CWD. That would limit the importation to only 11 states. But under the legal definition, elk imported by TWRA in an effort to build up state herds are "deer." TWRA would be under the same restriction as a game preserve not to bring in animals from states where there have been cases of CWD.

TWRA allies did defeat an amendment that would have required the agency to test any deer that dies in a wildlife area for CWD, arguing it was too costly. Meanwhile, the deer farming bill has been moved from the TWRA-friendly Environment and Conservation Committee to the farm-friendly Agriculture Committee.