Tag Archives: deer

Of Horse Slaughter, Deer, Milk and Senate District 8 Campaign

Horse slaughter, deer farming and raw milk sales might be ignored in most political campaigns, but not in this summer’s four-candidate, six-county Republican primary race that will decide who succeeds retiring state Sen. Mike Faulk.
“The horse is a very intelligent animal. In my personal opinion and the opinion of humane societies I’ve talked with, we don’t need to be killing them for human consumption,” said candidate Jeff Brantley of Sharp’s Chapel. “What’s next? Dogs and cats?”
Candidate Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains, as a state representative, has pushed legislation that would clear the way for operation of horse slaughter facilities. The bills have failed.
He has also unsuccessfully sponsored legislation that would legalize keeping whitetail deer in captivity and selling them — an idea Brantley said he also opposes.
Critics say such a move would raise the risk of Tennessee’s native whitetails becoming infected with illnesses brought in by imported, domesticated deer, including chronic wasting disease. Proponents say such concerns are mistaken and deer farming would be a new source of income in rural counties.

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Effort to Authorize Whitetail Deer Farming Renewed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee legislator is again trying to get approval for commercial deer farms after a similar effort failed last year.
Rep. Frank Nicely, R-Strawberry Plains, has accused opponents of his bill of spreading disinformation. However, the measure has raised alarm among hunting groups and wildlife conservation advocates, according to The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/xT3W9v).
When Nicely crafted the bill (HB3164) this year, he steered it to the House Agriculture Committee, which he chairs. A similar measure last year received little support before the chamber’s Conservation and Environment subcommittee.
The Tennessee Wildlife Federation says deer farms open the state to the possibility of chronic wasting disease.
The committee heard testimony on the bill Tuesday and it was limited to the state veterinarian.
“Actually, bringing in 10 more deer would probably be no more a risk than bringing in 10 more head of cattle,” Niceley said, referring to infectious disease.
He then asked Charlie Hatcher, Tennessee Department of Agriculture veterinarian, “Would you agree — or could you almost agree with that?”
Hatcher replied that deer brought into the state would have to meet import requirements, including health documentation.
“Assuming that people follow the rules, the risk would be reduced,” Hatcher said.
Before the committee met, Nicely said the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the TWF are behind public criticism of his bill and said elk and exotic deer have been brought into Tennessee that importing white-tailed deer would be no different.
Proponents say deer could be raised as livestock for meat, hides, antler velvet and urine– the latter processed to mask the human scent of hunters.
A hunting group has been critical of the proposal, saying it is an economic danger to the state.
Dick Davis with the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association said the state’s economy gets more than $500 million yearly from deer hunting.
“This bill endangers that economic benefit for the creation of a relatively few jobs with no benefit to wildlife or conservation,” he wrote to lawmakers.
Mike Alder, who represents the North American Deer Farmers Association, said 23 states allow deer farming. Adler said no deer would be brought into Tennessee from states with cases of chronic wasting disease.

Deer Bill Dead For the Year; Nicely Blames ‘Bald-Faced Lie’

Rep. Frank Niceley has abandoned – for this year — his two-pronged effort to legalize whitetail deer farming in Tennessee, blaming “misinformation” and “outright lies” about the proposal for creating a hostile environment in the Legislature.
The Strawberry Plains Republican took HB94 “off notice” in the House Agriculture Subcommittee Tuesday. That was a bill on an unrelated topic that Niceley took over from another legislator previously to get the deer farming proposal before the committee that he chairs.
He dropped the same idea as proposed earlier in a separate bill, HB1112, last week in the House Conservation and Environment Subcommittee. In that case, Niceley’s move to amend the bill officially to incorporate the deer farming language failed on a 3-3 tie vote.
Niceley proposed afterwards to have the bill passed out of subcommittee, then held in full committee until next year with a “summer study” on the matter.

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Niceley Maneuvers Around Deer Farming Roadblock (or Tries Anyway)

Rep. Frank Niceley moved Wednesday to bypass a committee where his bill to legalize white-tail deer farming in Tennessee has been corralled and instead moved it with an unusual maneuver into a committee where he is the herd boss.
The committee swap was not immediately successful. Officials of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, who oppose the legislation before the first committee, promptly repeated their opposition the new forum.
Niceley originally proposed to allow white-tail deer farming through HB1112, which was assigned to the House Conservation Committee. Lengthy hearings have been held on the bill there, but no vote taken as it appeared there was more opposition than support among members of the panel.
On Wednesday, Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, effectively shifted the bill to the House Agriculture Committee, where he is committee chairman.
This was possible because Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, allowed Niceley to take over sponsorship of HB94, which was introduced as a bill requiring owners of potentially dangerous animal to attend an “educational course” on handing of such animals.
The original content of HB94 was removed by amendment and replaced with the language of HB1112 – plus a declaration at the outset that importation of animals into Tennessee from states that have experienced an outbreak of chronic wasting disease, also known as CWD.

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Deer Farming Debated, Delayed

A bill to allow white-tail deer farming in Tennessee was promoted as an economic boon for rural areas by supporters while criticized by as a threat to native deer by an official of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and others.
Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, who is sponsor of HB1112, said white-tailed deer farms would provide new income for rural areas with few other economic opportunities. With precautions built into the legislation, he said, the farming would be completely safe.
But Nat Johnson, assistant director of TWRA, told the House Conservation Subcommittee that opening the state to white-tail deer farming would increase the chances of lethal “chronic wasting disease,” or CWD, entering Tennessee.
He said that the state of Wisconsin had been forced to buy 80 acres of a former deer farm infected by CWD after operators went out of business in order to prevent the spread of the illness. The contaminated site will have to be monitored for years at state expense, he said.
Niceley, in turn, contended TWRA is being hypocritical because the agency has participated in bringing elk, which are also subject to CWD, into the state – both for release into the wild and for farming. State law already allows farming of most other species of animals, but explicitly prohibits farming of white-tail deer, which are indigenous to the state with a wild herd estimated at about 900,000 and regular hunting seasons.
Mike Butler, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, also spoke against the bill as posing a CWD risk while Dr. Dennis Gourley, a veterinarian who works with deer farms in Ohio, Wisconsin and other states, depicted the practice as safe.
Gourley said that about 8,000 deer farms in 22 other states where the practice is legal have no CWD contamination currently and the restrictions posed in the Tennessee legislation would be the strictest in the nation.
Under questioning by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, Gourley acknowledged he holds an interest in a deer farm.
As presented with amendments, the bill would require regular inspections of deer farms by the state Department of Agriculture with each animal bearing an ear tag and microchip. Only deer that have been raised in a farm with a five-year history of negative monitoring for CWD could be brought into the state. Gourley said five years is the accepted incubation period for CWD, though there was some debate on the matter
No vote was taken on the bill Tuesday, but it will be back for further hearings next week.

Deer Farming Bill Draws Foes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state wildlife conservation group is opposing a bill that would allow commercial deer farming in Tennessee, saying that doing so could help spread chronic wasting disease.
A House subcommittee is set to discuss the bill on Tuesday. (Note: It’s HB1112, in House Conservation Sub.)
“You’ve got a pure pathway for bringing that disease into the state, and the result, if you bring it into the state, is devastating,” said Mike Butler, CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. The disease can spread rapidly and ultimately causes death once an animal is infected.
The bill would require state agriculture officials to license breeding operations to raise white-tail deer, primarily for hunting on private ranches, The Commercial Appeal reported.
More than 20 states allow the commercial raising of white-tailed deer. Mississippi lawmakers considered a similar proposal this year but put it off, the newspaper reported. Other managed herds are allowed in Tennessee, including elk.

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TN News & Opinion Notes, 3/5/11

Theme Park Developer Dodged Past Debts?
A company that is leading efforts to build a $750 million theme park in Spring Hill was at the center of an eviction lawsuit less than a year ago in Palm Beach County, Fla., reports the Columbia Daily Herald.
Landlord Floyd Maxson said Dennis W. Peterson, CEO of Big International Group of Entertainment Inc., left Florida this past year owing him money that has yet to be paid.

”He destroyed my place, too,” he said. “When he moved in he had a deposit so I used some of that money to clean it up, but it wasn’t enough.”
Despite facing eviction in Florida just months ago, Peterson is promising the company has the financial backing to build an entertainment complex on 1,500 acres off Interstate 65 in northeastern Maury County.

Peterson has not returned multiple messages seeking comment.

Roe & Cutting Complaints
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe tells Hank Hayes that he’s ready to restore federal funding to local police for cleaning up meth labs and has heard constituent complaints about possible closure of the national Fish Hatchery at Erwin and cutting funding to public broadcasting.
He’s not as clear on what to do about the latter.
“Is it fair to ask your grandchildren 10, 15, 20 years from now to pay for what we are listening to now?” Roe asked. “This spending spree we are on cannot continue. … The Obama administration thinks that if Republicans take this on, we will be punished in the 2012 elections. And they may be right. But the right thing to do is take it on. I didn’t come up here to worry about being re-elected.”
Twenty-four Tennessee-based banks still haven’t repaid more than $400 million in taxpayer funds they received under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, some more than two years after they were granted the help, says The Tennessean.
But the program, derided by many as a “bailout” when it took effect, may pay off for taxpayers and communities around the country. The extra funds stabilized local banks and allowed them to lend more, and the banks continue to pay interest on what they received. Some experts predict that the Capital Purchase Program, the part of TARP that provided help to banks, will end up in the black.
…. At the same time, some banks — including three in Tennessee — have missed dividend and interest payments to the federal government.

Chattanooga Argument: Taxes for the Poor
The $3 million in public funds that Erlanger Health System has received each year for decades could be in jeopardy this spring, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
A 45-year-old sales tax agreement between Hamilton County, Chattanooga and smaller municipalities is about to expire. The agreement guarantees $3 million a year to Erlanger to treat indigent county residents. Now city and county officials are at odds over what the loss of that agreement would mean for Erlanger’s funding.
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield argues that the legislative act that created Erlanger, formally called the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority, makes clear that paying for indigent care is the county’s responsibility. The sales tax agreement transfers some sales tax revenue to the county to help fund civic and social service agencies. If it expires, the obligation to fund Erlanger falls on the county, Littlefield said.

New Jobs Bill: Commercial ‘Hunting’
in his latest column, Frank Cagle promotes the idea of allowing commercial hunting for domesticated deer raised on Tennessee farms. He’s talking about a bill pending in the Legislature, entitled the White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act.
We need to remove barriers to the development of commercial hunting preserves. Finding a use for huge tracts of timberland also reduces the pressure to deforest the countryside or dig for coal.
The TWRA needs to continue to selling hunting licenses and manage wildlife areas and promote wildlife. But they need to be barred from regulating the operation of private hunting preserves.
Hey, you Republican legislators who have just discovered you do not have a jobs package? Here it is.

Gutting the Teachers Union
From a Robert Houck column:
In truth, the push by Ramsey and others to end collective bargaining is a thinly (and I do mean thinly) veiled effort to gut the teachers’ union. Republicans are now firmly in control of the governor’s office and both houses of the General Assembly, and it’s time for payback for all those years the TEA backed Democrats (and the occasional rogue Republican who dared to stray from the party line) in state elections.
Some Republicans were thought to be wavering on ending collective bargaining, including two members of the Senate Education Committee, where the anti-TEA bills would be considered.
…(Sen. Rusty) Crowe said last week the vote was one of the “hardest” he has ever had to cast. He told me he could see both “the good and bad” in collective bargaining, but in the end he decided it was best for teachers to meet with their local school boards “as a family without an outside force” possibly complicating matters.
“I’ve probably lost all my support from the TEA,” Crowe said.
He has, and Crowe has also come under criticism from local members of the TEA who say the senator is “naive” if he believes teachers will be allowed to sit down and talk to their local school boards about pay and workplace issues if collective bargaining is outlawed.
“He (Crowe) is living in a fantasy land,” said Deidre Wilkes Brown, a teacher and chief negotiator for the Johnson City Education Association
Conservative Teachers’ PET
In his latest column, Greg Johnson promotes the Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET), which now claims 5,000 members, as the conservative alternative to the “left-wing” Tennessee Education Association, which now claims 52,000 members.
By joining the Tennessee Education Association, teachers give tacit, if not implicit, approval to TEA’s political agenda. Last year, TEA chose – with concerted aforethought – to give almost 93 percent of its political contributions to Democrats. TEA fired the first political shot. Now TEA feigns shock when politics doesn’t go its way.
….But Tennessee teachers have a choice. They don’t have to join TEA and NEA. Teachers seeking representation can choose Professional Educators of Tennessee.
Executive Director J.C. Bowman, who served as chief education policy analyst for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, told me in an interview PET does not make political contributions. “If they’re noneducational issues, we’re not involved,” Bowman said. “When you walk into a school, you’re not a Republican or a Democrat. You’re a teacher.”
…Bowman touted PET’s dues, which are $149 per year compared to more than $500 for TEA. “We don’t have to send any dollars up to a national organization,” Bowman said. “All (dues) dollars stay in the state.” Noting a chief concern of educators, Bowman said, “We offer great liability (insurance) protection for teachers.”

…. “We’d like to see collective bargaining rolled back, if not completely done away with,” Bowman said. “We support collaborative bargaining with every side at the table.”