Last week, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) considered a measure that would impose a blanket prohibition on the importation of live deer and elk to reduce the chance that potentially fatal “Chronic Wasting Disease” could spread to existing deer populations in the state.  A number of state lawmakers, however, have expressed concern that a growing industry will be harmed if the current rules against importing cervids are expanded beyond those areas where the disease has been detected.   The state now prohibits deer from being imported from 18 states and two western Canadian provinces.

In a letter sent to FWCC, Senate President Don Gaetz called the proposal “a bit premature and extreme” as the rule could “potentially cut jobs, monopolize an industry, and limit options for the roughly 100 registered hunting preserves already in operation.”   Some believe that the proposal is driven by a small group of hunting preserve owners in Florida who want to increase prices by limiting the deer stock currently in Florida.    The trouble with that theory, they say, is that if the price for hunting goes up, hunters will simply travel outside of Florida, which would make matters worse for business.