In response to concerns regarding the intentional release of captive-raised deer into the wild in Alabama, Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. signed an emergency regulation prohibiting the practice effective December 7, 2012.
Earlier this year, a group in central Alabama sought to enhance local deer population genetics through the introduction of commercially-raised deer from licensed Alabama game breeders. Game breeders are legally permitted to raise deer in captivity and selectively produce animals with preferred traits such as larger antlers. These animals are normally sold to fenced hunting enclosures, which restricts their interactions with deer outside the enclosures. The new regulation does not restrict the release of captive-raised deer into hunting enclosures.
Previous Alabama law did not address the introduction of these animals to areas outside of enclosures. While the prospect of increasing antler size through genetic augmentation is appealing to many hunters, officials with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have concerns about the practice.
“Our agency is responsible for the sustainability of the state’s wildlife resources,” said Commissioner Guy. “Therefore, we are obligated to use caution before allowing such activity to occur. Further review of this concept by the Conservation Advisory Board, which meets February 9, 2013, is warranted before taking further action on this issue,” he added.