In response to concerns from hunters, conservation groups and wildlife professionals regarding the intentional release of captive-raised deer into the wild in Alabama, Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. signed an emergency order prohibiting the practice, effective Friday, Dec. 7.
Guy’s action came after an independent group called The Big Buck Project announced plans to begin releasing farm-raised, genetically enhanced bucks in central Alabama’s Marengo County, claiming its intent was to “introduce trophy genetics” to the native white-tailed deer population.
The Big Buck Project is spearheaded by a Marengo County-based real estate group, Tutt Land Co., which specializes in selling hunting and recreational land and manages hunting leases.
At the current time, Alabama game laws do not specifically address the introduction of deer raised in captivity to areas outside enclosures. As a result, those behind The Big Buck Project were legally permitted to acquire deer raised in captivity that were selectively produced for traits such as large antlers.
However, the issue of genetic manipulation in whitetails to produce huge-antlered bucks for high-fence—and high-dollar—private hunting operations is easily one of the most controversial subjects in the hunting community today.
Earlier this year, the Georgia-based Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), a 50,000-member non-profit organization dedicated to “ensuring a high-quality and sustainable future for deer and deer hunting,” stepped forward to adamantly oppose any expansion of the deer-breeding industry. The QDMA’s action marked the first time a hunter-oriented, conservation-minded national organization had taken a public stand on the controversial issue of deer farming in the U.S.
You can bet the folks at QDMA have been closely monitoring the situation in Alabama and were likely pleased with Commissioner Guy’s action last week.
“Our agency is responsible for the sustainability of the state’s wildlife resources,” Commissioner Guy said upon issuing his order on Friday. “Therefore, we are obligated to use caution before allowing such activity to occur.”
Commissioner Guy’s order will be reviewed by the Conservation Advisory Board when it meets Feb. 9, 2013.