I recently got a press release from the QDMA regarding a new project in Alabama called the Big Buck Project. The premise is simple, basically take some monster captive bred bucks and let them loose in the woods fo Morengo County, Alabama. Their goal is to (artificially) introduce new trophy genetics into the local deer herd.
My initial reaction to this was a mix of confusion and outrage. While I get excited about big bucks this is just feels wrong. When captive breeding projects are done for other species it’s a last resort to save an endangered species. Other programs release wild animals from other areas into new areas, as we’ve seen in Kentucky and more recently Virginia, to reintroduce species like Elk. However this is done with the cooperation of state agencies and requires rigorous disease testing in each animal before it is released. This is a private project set on releasing captive bred animals, to my knowledge, without the cooperation of local wildlife agencies.
I don’t see throwing a few ‘breeder bucks’ into a wild population doing anything other than turning into a wild goose chase. As QDMA CEO and Wildlife Biologist Brian Murphy says, “This is like trying to change the salinity of the ocean by adding a gallon of fresh water.” The Big Buck Project website shows a graphic that illustrates how in 5 years with only two ‘breeder bucks’ they can have over 2,400 shooter bucks in the wild population. While there could be some small trace of those genes 5 years later they will be largely diluted. That would be similar to me saying, I have blue eyes so my great great great grandson will too, not likely. Especially if only me and one other male in the breeding population have blue eyes! Additionally, those deer still need to get to certain age to reach that supposed growth potential.
Aside from the fact that it will do little to accomplish their goal, it’s dangerous. As the press release goes on to mention captive breed and raised deer can carry and spread disease not present in wild populations. Also captive deer rarely survive long in the wild.
Basically, Tutt Land Company who is behind the project is willing to risk the health of their local deer herd for an extremely slim if not nonexistent chance at improving the genetics, to produce bigger bucks. In my opinion the money being spent on ‘breeder bucks’ could be much more wisely spent on habitat improvement and education. This whole project hinges on people not shooting the big breeder bucks with highly visible tags in each ear. I just don’t see people collectively following that rule. While I hope they have the best of intentions for improving their deer herd but this seems horribly misguided.
What are you thoughts on this project? Am I overreacting or am I in line with your thoughts?