Oklahoma City company maintains pedigree registry for trophy whitetails

DNA Solutions, Inc., recently tested and added its 100,000th whitetail deer to the North American Deer Registry.
By Ed Godfrey Published: October 23, 2011
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The business of breeding deer keeps growing in the United States as do the size of their antlers.

Just recently the Oklahoma City based company, DNA Solutions, Inc., tested and added its 100,000th whitetail deer to the North American Deer Registry.

Brandt Cassidy, lab director for DNA Solutions, said the lab received just 300 samples a year when it first started doing genetic testing on whitetail deer in 2001.

“Now we are doing that many a week,” he said.

In 2007, DNA Solutions was hired to create and manage the North American Deer Registry, which tracks the lineage of whitetail deer. Three years ago, just 40,000 deer were on the registry.

As the number of registered whitetails continues to increase, the genetic history of each animal is easier to trace.

Part of the reason for the registry's growth is that some states which did not allow big-game commercial hunting in the past - commonly known as high-fence areas – have legalized those operations in recent years, Cassidy said.

Most deer breeders using DNA testing and the registry are located east of the Rocky Mountains where there are more high-fence areas. Texas, with its proliferation of commercial hunting ranches, is a big contributor, Cassidy said.

In fact, the 100,000th deer tested by DNA Solutions came from Rancho Trinidad, a 3,000 acre ranch with two locations near Kennedy and Rock Creek, Texas.

“The registry has allowed us to better market our deer with the assurance that we can solidify every pedigree with documentation from DNA analysis,” said Davin Cox, ranch manager. “Without these DNA'd certificates, sales of breeder deer would not take place.”

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Did you know?

Oklahoma currently has 90 commercial hunting operations. They must be licensed and inspected annually by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Thirty-nine are upland game bird operations, 25 are high-fence areas for big game hunting and 26 are combinations of both.

On high-fence areas, the fence is required to be 8 feet high. It is illegal to mix wild deer with captive herds.

There is no minimum requirement on the size of commercial hunting areas in Oklahoma but they range from 400 to 1,000 acres, said Bill Hale, assistant chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department.

There are approximately 220 deer and elk breeding farms in the state. They must be licensed by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

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