The buck stops here: Why deer farms are a bad idea

January 26, 2011 10:42:00 AM



We have farm-raised catfish. Why not farm-raised deer?  


A bill that would have allowed genetically enhanced deer to be raised on farms in Mississippi bounded out of a state Senate committee this week, only to get shot down Tuesday when it didn''t find enough votes for passage.  


The bill, introduced by Sen. Tommy Gollott, a Republican from Biloxi, ostensibly would have allowed farmers to grow bucks and does next to their cotton and corn. Deer could be bred and sold, and of course, hunted. 


The actual goal of deer breeding can be summed up in two words: monster bucks. Deer breeding is, indeed, big business in other states. Hunting camps in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and elsewhere lure visitors with the promise of bagging a trophy deer bred from champion lineage. 


There might be money in this, but there were concerns about the bill. One, raised by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, was that sicknesses deer might catch on farms could spread to Mississippi''s native deer population. If you''re keeping score: Healthy, wild deer -- good. Diseased, mutant deer -- bad. 


Fears of mutant deer aside, we''re happy this bill didn''t pass, for a more practical reason. We can assume that with this genetic inbreeding, the deer wouldn''t be getting any smarter, which would inevitably have meant more monster bucks smashing through Mississippians'' windshields. 


We all have at least one deer-vs.-car story that immediately comes to mind. It''s starring us, a family member or a friend. The story typically ends with a totaled car and a couple dozen pounds of venison on the highway. Hopefully, it doesn''t end with a death or serious injury to a person. 


Deer breeding might be big business, but fixing cars that hit deer is much bigger. A State Farm study reported 2.4 million deer-vs.-car accidents nationwide between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009. Insurer USAA said its average claim for such accidents was $2,886 in 2009.  


Mississippi is No. 10 on USAA''s list of states with the highest number of deer-related collisions -- the only Southern state on the list.  


Human deaths have also increased, by nearly 20 percent in a decade''s time, according to USAA. A Mayo Clinic study on deer-vs.-car accidents termed the animals a "rural menace." Bambi has a dark side, and that''s without knowing how to work a rifle. 


Mississippi already has enough monster bucks, on and off our roads. We''re glad the Legislature did the sporting thing Tuesday.