The undercover sting went off without a hitch, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) caught their suspect in the act of making an illegal sale. We’re not talking cocaine, moonshine or illegal weapons; the TWRA was after this man’s jerky. That’s right, jerky.
The suspect? Former Deputy Josh King, who posted on Facebook that he had some jerky for sale. Bet he didn’t expect this posting would lead to an undercover sting by the TWRA, and him facing a Class A misdemeanor with the possibility of a $2,500 fine and up to a year in prison.
It might sound a little funny at first, but if you take a minute to analyze the situation, you have to respect the TWRA for protecting our wildlife. First off, King was not selling farm-raised beef jerky. He was selling venison jerky made from wild whitetail deer taken legally during the hunting season.
There are a few things to consider. First, the USDA doesn’t manage wildlife products so there are no regulations for the proper care and preparation methods used to make venison jerky from wild whitetails. Second, can you imagine the dramatic decline in whitetail populations if hunters were allowed to sell the meat from wild animals?
Selling exotic wildlife or illegal animal parts is nothing new. Recent stories of large exotic snakes being let loose in Florida’s everglades and bear gall bladders being sold for their medicinal values come to mind.
Wildlife agencies like the TWRA help protect our wildlife and sportsmen by investigating these illegal practices. Can you imagine hunting turkeys in Florida and having a 20-foot boa constrictor drop down from the tree above you and start wrapping itself around you for a snack?
While selling some venison jerky might not sound like such a big deal, I commend the TWRA for protecting our wildlife, no matter what the situation. Stopping practices like this ensures we have a stable wildlife population for generations to come — so we can pass on a tradition we hold dear to our hearts.