February 16, 2021

CSF Leads Charge Against Effort to Commercialize Maryland Deer Herds

Article Contact: Brent Miller,

Contact: Brent Miller, Senior Director, Northeastern States

On February 4, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was joined by 26 national and in-state conservation partners in submitting a letter opposing two bills in Maryland (House Bill 490 and House Bill 594). Both of these bills would authorize the sale of wild venison and undermine the dedicated work of sportsmen and women who’s laudable conservation efforts over the past century recovered white-tailed deer from an estimated 100,000 individuals nationwide to the burgeoning populations that are today present throughout their historical range.

The letter detailed the history of market hunting in the nation and the resulting collapse of many species which ushered in a new era of responsible, and regulated hunting with sportsmen and women leading the conservation movement to establish rules to regulate harvest, establish state fish and wildlife agencies, and provide a permanent funding structure for state-level conservation work through the American System of Conservation Funding. The letter further urged the consideration of this history in the evaluation of HB 490 and HB 594 to ensure a return to the darker days of wildlife exploitation does not occur.

To add insult to injury, HB 490 would reclassify wild deer as “livestock” for the purposes of bringing them to market, which denigrates the legacy of American sportsmen and women, state fish and wildlife agencies, and other conservationists, whose diligent work over the past century has resulted in the recovery of white-tailed deer being rightfully recognized as one of the greatest conservation success stories our nation has ever known.

At the time of this writing both bills have received a hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee, and we are now awaiting the official Committee report. CSF would like to thank all the partners who joined together to voice opposition to these proposals and extends a special thank you to Hunters of Maryland for their work in Annapolis to coordinate this issue and to ensure the message was heard throughout the House of Delegates.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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