Just as Obamacare is to Health Care, and Dodd-Frank is to the financial industry, the Texas Parks & Wildlife is to Deer Breeders. The state agency is needlessly killing wildlife, jobs, and hurting small businesses all as the result of a rare disease in deer that poses no public health risk to humans.

Deer Breeding is not a well-known industry despite it contributing more than $700 million in annual economic impact in Texas. This industry contributes jobs and money to our economy, but it also preserves a way of life in Texas for current and future generations of landowners.

Let me briefly describe the facts of the situation. There is a disease called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). It affects Whitetail Deer, Elk, and other “Cervids.” Basically, the disease causes the deer to think it is not hungry or thirsty. It can take anywhere between four to seven years to kill the animal. But when you consider the average lifespan of a deer in Texas, they are more likely die from pneumonia, a predator, an arrow, a bullet, or a car before CWD runs its course.

Most importantly, humans cannot get CWD even if we ate venison from a deer that was infected. Regardless, the disease is extremely rare.

According to the USDA – from 1998 to 2012 – there have been 1,017,826 wild and captive Cervids tested in the entire nation. Only 4,003 have tested positive for CWD. That’s right—only 0.39% of those tested have CWD. Think about that again—over 14 year period over 99.5% did not have the disease.

So, what is Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) doing? How are they handling this matter with deer-breeders? They are putting many out of business, killing jobs, and abusing the rights of land owners for a false crisis that poses no public health threat to Texas.

There are two ways to test the deer—live and from the brain stem of a terminated or deceased animal. Until a few months ago, TPWD were mandating Texans to kill to test their inventory. Live testing isn’t much better when you consider how stressed out deer can become when you handle them. So imagine a business business-owner – who has a doe on their property that they paid anywhere between $12,000-250,000 for – being asked to kill the animal for testing.

In return, TPWD offers $1,500 and the bureaucratic stamp of approval declaring your herd did not have CWD. And any young fawns dependent on that doe that die—well, that’s not TPWD’s problem.

If it was found to have CWD, they would send in State Employees to eradicate your herd and any wild deer on your property, and quarantine your land for five years. All due to a disease that isn’t a threat to public health and is only a minor threat to the animal, who is more likely to be killed by an unrelated cause.

The process is also flawed in the way property owners are treated. When TPWD kills a deer, they will not allow any video or pictures. And when they show up to your house to kill the animals, they won’t let you leave your home while they “do their job.”

Texans would be shocked to learn what happened to the Patterson’s herd, a deer-breeder in Central Texas. Long story short, TPWD eradicated their herd.

What has the unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy at the TPWD been doing while the majority of Texans were not watching? They have created a business environment where small business owners are quitting, opening their gates and saying, “I’m DONE!.” Think about it, Ranchers and Farmers cultivate an environment for animals and crops to flourish. TPWD is choking them out. Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of risk—they are smart enough to know that a destructive bureaucracy will put you out of business, eventually.

This is Texas. This is the land of opportunity. When a bureaucracy acts and regulates like TPWD, they are hurting Texas and should be stopped.

Authentic and effective wildlife conservation is done by hunters, farmers, and ranchers, not the “tree huggers.” A healthy economy is grown by entrepreneurship, not by regulations, taxes, and more government spending. Taxes are only paid when someone can’t pass them on to someone else.

Small business creates 98% of the jobs here in Texas—Texas Parks and Wildlife is needlessly killing them.

Bryan Slaton

Bryan Slaton is the Republican nominee for House District 2.

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