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In N.H., bill suits taste of gourmands

CONCORD, N.H. -- Gourmands who favor meat from elk and red deer would be able to shoot their own under a proposal that passed the House yesterday.

The hotly debated bill, which passed 217 to 98, would allow buyers to go onto a farm where red deer or elk are raised, select an animal to be shot, and take the carcass home.

Objections came from lawmakers who see the plan as an unfair form of hunting. But supporters argued this was a way to support an alternative form of livestock farming when the cost to take these animals to a federally approved slaughterhouse was prohibitive.

''This is not a hunt by any stretch of the imagination. These are not wildlife. They are born, bred, and raised on farms," said Representative Robert L'Heureux of Merrimack.

Supporters say farmers who raise red deer and elk are suffering in a market that no longer allows them to ship animals to other states because of concerns about contagious chronic wasting disease that kills deer.

''It's a way for them to stay in business," Representative David Smith of Nashua argued. He said about 600 red deer and 300 elk are being raised on 22 farms throughout the state.

The bill must still be voted upon in the Senate.

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