Ecklund’s bill battles CWD by further restricting deer farmers

Minnesota’s deer herd faces a deadly challenge in chronic wasting disease also known as CWD. The problem can be traced back to deer farms and Rep. Rob Ecklund is looking to put the clamps on these operations.
On Friday a bill was scheduled to be heard in a House committee that would transfer oversight of farmed deer from the Board of Animal Health to the Department of Natural Resources.
Farmed cervidae will also have additional rules including more fencing (two fences at least 10 feet tall), no new farms and if a farmer has deer with CWD they cannot raise deer for 10 years.
Ecklund said the bill may be an uphill battle but he knows the goal of saving Minnesota’s wild deer herd is worthwhile.
“For some reason the ag community has decided they’re going to totally embrace farmed cervidae and treat it as a big ag organization,” said Ecklund.
But the idea that deer are being raised for food is folly. “Most of their product is antlers and urine,” said Ecklund.
Deer hunters on the other hand shoot a 150 pound deer and take home at least 30 pounds of meat.
Ecklund said the language is pretty strict and will face strong opposition from the agriculture community.
“Some of that will probably get pulled out but you write the bill they way you want it,” said Ecklund. “I’m not trying to drive these guys out of business. Dennis Udovich farms north of Cook and he’s a friend of mine. He’s doing it as well as he can but there’s a lot of bad actors out there who are not. We’re going after the bad actors.”
There are deer farms scattered across the state but the DNR has no idea where they are located or what kind of deer are being raised. Yet when a deer escapes, the first call goes to the DNR. Ecklund’s bill would help solve that problem.
“It’ll pass the House and be part of the environmental omnibus bill. To be honest I don’t know how much traction it’s going to get in the Senate.”
The House committee hearing will have testimony in support from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and Bluffland Whitetails among others.
“It’s got pretty good support from the hunting groups but it’s turning into a hunting versus ag and that’s tough,” said Ecklund. “I think it’s probably going to take a few years to get done.”
Ecklund should be given credit for getting this legislation on the table and attracting nine other state representatives to sign on.
“No other farmed animal in the state has its cousin as a wild animal on the other side of the fence,” said Ecklund.
Every deer hunter in the state should pressure their legislators to support House File 1727. This bill gives our wild deer herd a much greater chance at survival.