Suit seeks halt to tightened deer farm regulations

a no trespassing sign on a wooden fence post
A fenced area of a closed deer farm near Hines, where a CWD outbreak occurred in 2021.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

A group of Minnesota deer farmers is suing the state over new regulations that they allege are intended to eradicate the industry.

In May, state lawmakers approved a moratorium on new deer farms in an effort to halt the spread of chronic wasting disease and protect wild deer.

Legislators also restricted the sale of registrations for captive white-tailed deer to immediate family members, and allowed those permits to be transferred only once.

In a federal lawsuit, the Minnesota Deer Farmers Association argues that the statute discriminates against farmers without immediate family and is an unconstitutional taking of private property by the government.

The new law also shifted regulation of deer farms from the Board of Animal Health to the Department of Natural Resources.

According to the lawsuit, the number of deer farming operations in Minnesota has fallen sharply from 274 in 2017 to 125 today.

According to the DNR there are around 3,000 captive white-tailed deer in the state.

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