The Fight Over The Future of Texas' Deer

Animal breeders square off against Texas.

"I could walk in my pen, push them out the gate and walk 'em down the chute and work them like cattle," he said. "We didn't have to tranquilize the deer or nothing on our farm.

"My deer were nothing but pets."

He still wished he had been there when Texas Parks and Wildlife came to exterminate his animals. But he was sitting in a Texarkana prison camp at the time, serving a 25-month sentence. He thinks the investigation was personal, stemming from a lawsuit he filed against TPW in 2006 for failing to issue his breeder permit in a timely fashion. "That's what made them mad," he says. "They don't want people to contest them."

Texas Parks and Wildlife agents shot breeder James Anderton’s entire herd of nearly 80 deer.
Sebron Snyder
Texas Parks and Wildlife agents shot breeder James Anderton’s entire herd of nearly 80 deer.
Afterward, they severed the deer’s heads, ears and antlers and tested for disease.
Sebron Snyder
Afterward, they severed the deer’s heads, ears and antlers and tested for disease.

Nonetheless, the FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety caught wind that Anderton and his son Jimmie were involved in a conspiracy to move stolen trucks, tractors and trailers across state lines. The same informant told them in 2006 that Anderton was trucking deer in from out of state. According to investigative records, it's clear investigators also suspected Anderton was breaking state law by capturing wild deer. In 2003, the year after Texas closed its borders, a man named Raymond Scott Sly said he hitched his pickup to a low-slung, shop-built trailer with plywood partitions at Anderton's ranch, according to the records.

He followed Anderton to a Walmart in Greenville, where the deer farmer bought a road atlas. Anderton put his finger on Bald Knob, Arkansas, northeast of Little Rock. If Sly got pulled over, he instructed him to tell the officer they were fallow deer — an exotic, legally transportable breed similar to whitetail deer.

Sly hauled the trailer north and before dusk came to a gravel road, with a high fence on one side. As he pulled up to his destination, he told investigators, he was scared. There was an Arkansas Game and Fish truck parked next to a double-wide trailer. A man he thought might have been Native American came out and waved him in, told him he'd come to the right place. The Arkansas warden would later tell investigators during an interview that he didn't think it was his job to worry about where the deer he sold were headed, even if the end customer was flouting federal law. So Sly backed the trailer up to a barn and he and the game warden pushed a herd of does and a few bucks inside. One of them balked, and the warden darted the doe with tranquilizer, then administered a reversal once they'd loaded her. Sly handed the warden a check from Anderton and steered south into Texas. He had an auxiliary tank on his Dodge, so he wouldn't have to stop at a fueling station where curious eyes might pry.

As he was instructed, he left the trailer-load of deer at Anderton's hunting ranch in Delta County, near the guest house. Two weeks later, he was paid $2,000 for his trouble. Years later, he was paid a visit by state and federal investigators. By 2009, Anderton and his son received federal indictments for trafficking wildlife and stolen property. From 2003 to 2005, investigators said, they'd moved 125 deer across state lines. These weren't high-quality deer, according to one U.S. Fish and Game agent involved in the investigation. They were shooters, he said, worth about $62,000 all told. The Andertons pleaded guilty in August 2009. Anderton surrendered himself to a federal prison camp in March 2010. The month before, even though he'd admitted to trafficking deer, the breeder license he'd been waiting on finally came through. That's because TPW's own rules didn't allow the agency to strip him of his license for a federal prosecution. So, in August 2010, TPW changed the rules and revoked Anderton's permit.

Four months later, agents showed up at his ranch to carry out the destruction of the herd. It would have been roughly five years since the federal complaint accused him of bringing in the last shipment of deer. TPW said Anderton couldn't provide proof of origin for the animals. They may have been infected with chronic wasting disease, the agency reasoned. "They could've come from anywhere," a spokesman told Lone Star Outdoor News in 2010 (the agency wouldn't comment on the case because of pending litigation).

"They had zero evidence that a deer that came from out of state went into my breeder pens," Anderton claims, adding that each animal had a state-issued unique number. The deer he was accused of transporting, he says, went to his game ranch in Delta County, not the farm in Hunt County. If they'd come into contact with infected animals, they'd be dead by now. "This was all done in 2002, 2003 and 2004. They killed my deer in 2010 and 2011, five or six years after all this stuff was supposed to happen. They knew about it in 2005!" he says. "They wanted me out of the deer business."

TPW leadership, for its part, seemed to agree. In documents obtained by WFAA-TV, the former chief warden sought changes in the rules in order to "shut [Anderton] down." In an internal message, he wrote that he'd "already put too much info in emails about putting Anderton out of business."

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There are many things at play here. One prominent point is personal property. Texas keeps property taxes so you never really own your land. It is always in jeopardy of taxes. Why can't a person own a deer or cow or cat outright?

Personal property is liberty.


Whether raising deer is right or wrong, the deer themselves should not have been destroyed in such a ghastly and inhumane way.  As a hunter, I strive for a clean shot, to avoid pain and suffering of the animal, yet the lawmen took no care to avoid pain and suffering of the animals they were destroying. If you have to destroy animals, at least do it humanely.  I have had nightmares ever since I read this article and it has made me profoundly disappointed in the judgement and actions of our officials. 


I fully support Texas Park's & Wildlife actions here!!! SHUT down the TEXAS Deer hunting fenced in pens!!!! You don't hunt in "natural" zoos!!!! Go to the NORTHERN border of the USA & we will show Y'ALL how to really HUNT...yes....HUNT...look it up!! 


Friday, December 14, 2012

DEFRA U.K. What is the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease CWD being introduced into Great Britain? A Qualitative Risk Assessment October 2012    

Monday, June 24, 2013  

The Effects of Chronic Wasting Disease on the Pennsylvania Cervid Industry Following its Discovery    

Tuesday, April 16, 2013  

Cervid Industry Unites To Set Direction for CWD Reform and seem to ignore their ignorance and denial in their role in spreading Chronic Wasting Disease    

Tuesday, May 28, 2013  

Chronic Wasting Disease CWD quarantine Louisiana via CWD index herd Pennsylvania

Update May 28, 2013  6 doe from Pennsylvania CWD index herd still on the loose in Louisiana, quarantine began on October 18, 2012, still ongoing, Lake Charles premises.     

Thursday, June 20, 2013  

typical, BSE, CWD, Scrapie, Captive Farmed shooting pens (livestock), Wild Cervids, Rectal Mucosa Biopsy 2012 USAHA Proceedings, and CJD TSE prion Update  

Saturday, June 01, 2013  

Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) Proposes Modifications to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Brucellosis, and Other Rules     

kind regards, terry


Arrogance, selfishness, and greed is the reason James Anderton unlawfully imported illegally captured wild deer from another state into Texas; arrogance, selfishness, and greed is the reason James Anderton used a half million dollars worth of stolen property he purchased for pennies on the dollar for farm and ranch operations; arrogance, selfishness, and greed is the reason James Anderton chose to involve his son in criminal conduct that unnecessarily resulted in the son sharing a federal prison cell with his father; and arrogance, selfishness, and greed is the reason James Anderton's deer herd was destroyed.  


CWD or not I disagree with these "Genetically Superior" deer farms. As a hunter I love taking a large buck for the dinner table, but not some genetically modified animal. I know people have tied up their life's savings in their farms. But that doesn't make it right. When you go to hunt this type of deer it's not about the utilization of the meat. It's about the trophy on the wall.



I'm a conservationist and a hunter. I agree with you. The problem is too many wanna-be hunters have more money than skill or sense. They are willing to pay hugh amounts to have a B&C caliber mount on their wall, then strut around like they're a great white hunter. These people are not hunters.

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