If supervision of deer farming is moved from the state Wildlife Resources Commission into the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as proposed in a pending bill, the budget provides $149,000 to add two positions to the program.
A wide-ranging bill, Senate Bill 513, the Farm Act of 2015, includes a provision to make that change, under the presumption that deer raised for parts are more of a livestock commodity than game. Deer farming is small in North Carolina but the farmers involved want to expand.
Opponents, including wildlife conservationists, are concerned that the more penned deer allowed in the state the greater the risk of a devastating disease that has troubled deer populations in other states.
If that bill, which has been sitting in the House for two months, or one like it doesn’t pass this session, then the money reverts to the general fund.
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Last year’s budget bill allowed for importing deer to North Carolina beginning in 2017, and authorized new permits for captive deer farms. The Wildlife Resources Commission then prohibited new permits for importing white-tailed deer and elk, citing potential legal challenges.
The budget also cuts the Wildlife Resources Commission budget by 23 percent, as budget-writers want the commission to transition to operate on receipts. The commission’s director has expressed concern that the cut is too severe.