Deer would be treated as livestock and farm-raised venison would be sold to groceries and restaurants under a bill that is in the WV Legislature.

The Senate voted 26-8 to pass a deer farm bill Tuesday that gives the Department of Agriculture sole authority over the farms, replacing oversight by the Division of Natural Resources.

The WV-DNR opposes the bills.

They argue the change could leave wild deer herds vulnerable to disease and threaten the state's $200 million hunting and tourism industry.

The small number of deer farmers in WV have been trying to persuade the Legislature to consider their animals as livestock so they can sell the meat.

Resorts in the state want to sell West Virginia white-tailed deer venison to their guests and farmers believe even grocery chains would sell the healthy meat.

The 37 farms now raise deer for shooting preserves.

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