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September 6, 2013

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Votes to Protect Deer from Deadly Disease

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to ban the import of live deer, elk and other cervids to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease. Deer and other cervids are imported into the state to stock breeding ranches and captive hunting ranches.

Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States. said: “We are extremely thankful that the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to approve this ban. Prohibiting the importation of cervids into the state is an essential step toward preventing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease into Florida. The health of our native wildlife is far too important to risk just so someone can bring in an out-of-state deer to be shot behind a fence.”

Facts:

  • Chronic wasting disease has now been found in 22 states. In 13 of the states the disease has been found in captive populations. CWD is an incurable, fatal prion disease similar to mad cow disease. There is no vaccine, and there is no live test for CWD.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease can cost taxpayers millions of dollars in response efforts – the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources alone has spent over $40 million since 2002 fighting the disease.
  • Captive cervids are imported into Florida for captive hunting, where the animals are stocked inside escape-proof fenced enclosures, allowing ranches to often offer guaranteed trophies, “100 percent success” rates, and advertise "no kill, no pay" policies.
  • Captive hunts are generally reviled by the hunting community nationwide for violating the principle of fair chase. Hunting groups such as the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, which maintain trophy records for big game hunting, will not consider animals shot at captive hunts for inclusion on their record lists.
  • At more than 1,000 commercial captive hunt operations in the United States, trophy hunters pay to shoot native and exotic mammals — from zebra to endangered scimitar-horned Oryx — confined in fenced enclosures.
  • Many of the animals on these ranches have become accustomed to humans, making them easy targets for shooters.


Media Contact:
Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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