Wednesday, January 07, 2009

TEXAS NEWS: Deer Smuggling Yields Big Bucks (sorry, I couldn't stop the pun)

The sight of deer munching in suburban gardens is a common one across America, particularly in places like the Texas hill Country where at holiday time the ubiquitous roadside deer warning signs are decorated with round red stickers by an anonymous artist in an homage to Rudolph, the most famous deer of all. So plentiful are the white-tailed deer in Texas that the notion of smuggling deer into Texas seems absurd, but this growing and lucrative illegal trade with its threat of devastating disease is challenging state and federal wildlife officers across the country.

There are an estimated 10 million deer hunters in the United States, and 80% of the annual $20 billion spent in the hunting industry is focused on the pursuit of the fleet-footed creatures, according to a federal census study released two years ago. For Capt. Greg Williford, a Texas game warden, deer hunting is a cultural tradition that has undergone major changes in the last decade and now he finds himself using the same undercover methods employed by federal drug agents to combat deer smugglers, lured to the illicit trade by big bucks for, well, big bucks. "It's like everything else in society — people want bigger, better, faster," Wiliford says.


Texas alone has 1,100 licensed breeders with approximately 87,000 deer and a total economic impact of $652 million, according to a 2007 Texas A&M study. Breeders often sell their stock at livestock auctions where the price for a good buck can reach five figures.

For the full article, visit the source: Time Magazine

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