WMBF Investigates: Selling venison in South Carolina


MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – It’s illegal to sell venison in South Carolina, but there’s a catch.

The WMBF Investigates team looked into the issue after a viewer asked why Arby’s will be allowed to sell its venison sandwich across the state starting Saturday. The viewer noted hunters are told it’s illegal to buy and sell venison in the state.

The law plainly states that to be the case. The sale of whitetail deer, wild or farm-raised, is prohibited.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has a frequently asked questions section that addresses this.

Its simple answer is no, you cannot legally sell venison of any deer. Then, it notes the exception. Section 50-11-1920 of South Carolina state law allows permitted restaurants to sell exotic, farm-raised venison as a menu item.

Arby’s tells WMBF News its venison is sourced from New Zealand, “where it’s grass-fed and free-range farmed using responsible practices,” according to a spokesman.

“These deer they’re processing in New Zealand are processed like we would handle beef here,” said James Miller, the director of the South Carolina Meat-Poultry Inspection Department.

South Carolina law dictates those restaurants selling venison need a permit from the State Livestock-Poultry Health Commission or the United States Department of Agriculture to sell the venison. WMBF News learned Arby’s doesn’t have a permit with either, but again, there’s a catch.

The law says the permit doesn’t apply to “venison products that are fully cooked or preserved in a manner allowing for human consumption with no further preparation.” It does say those products need official marks of inspection.

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