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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Deer are the deadliest animal in America, causing about 200 human deaths per year — as well as 30,000 injuries — when they collide with cars. That's a tragedy; it's also a market failure.

Why it matters: Rather than having deer running around and killing people, it would be much better — and much more delicious — were we to be killing the deer and eating them.

The big picture: Deer populations are exploding, causing enormous human and environmental damage. They eat saplings that would otherwise become carbon-absorbing trees; they destroy native plants that would otherwise house birds' nests; and, of course, they eat their way through countless gardens and vegetable patches.

  • Culling deer is an obvious solution to the problem — one with the ancillary benefit that it would produce large quantities of delicious, nutritious, high-protein, low-fat venison.
  • Natural carnivores also help. Studies have shown that deer-vehicle collisions fall by 22% when cougars are around, and by 24% when wolves are introduced.

The catch: Venison can currently only be sold in the U.S. if it is farmed, rather than wild. If you eat American venison that wasn't shot by yourself or a friend, then it's probably bland meat that comes from midwestern farms raising deer on a corn-heavy diet.

What they're saying: Kurt Vercauteren of the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center tells the WSJ that a sensible first step would be pilot projects in a few states, to see what happens when wild venison can be sold.

  • If commercial demand fails to meet supply, many food banks would love to make use of the meat, even if hunters are less generous than they used to be.

The bottom line: Wild game is regularly sold in pretty much every other country in the world. Given the popularity of guns and hunting in the U.S., it's bizarre that doesn't happen here.

Go deeper

Jul 13, 2021 - Podcasts

The deer problem

It’s the ever-famous shark week on the Discovery Channel this week -- but if we’re talking about deadly animals, did you know that deer are actually the deadliest in America? They’re the cause of death for about 200 Americans a year in collisions with cars, and injure tens of thousands. Felix Salmon says it's a market failure, and he has a solution.

  • Plus, an update on the crisis in Haiti.
  • And, Denver hopes the MLB All-Star Game will be a big boost for the city.

Guests: The Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles, Axios' Felix Salmon and John Frank.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Amy Pedulla, Naomi Shavin, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

Mike Allen, author of AM
11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America's "Friendscape" crisis

New research shows Americans have fewer friends than in the past, and are less likely to have a best friend.

  • Why it matters: At a time of excruciating mental and societal stress, this is another sign we're breaking apart. And the friendship drought could get worse with more people working remotely or hybrid-ly.

Pelosi says it's her "plan" to appoint GOP Rep. Kinzinger to Jan. 6 committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that it is her "plan" to appoint Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to the House select committee investigating the deadly Jan 6. Capitol riots.

Why it matters: Pelosi's statement to ABC's "This Week" comes after she rejected two of the five Republican appointments offered by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).