The Inevitable Happened – CWD in Mississippi

On February 2, I wrote about  proposed legislation affecting hunters in Mississippi.  Senate Bill 2921 would have required the owner of any wildlife enclosure to apply for and obtain a permit from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) and provided other related regulations.  The bill was virtually identical to HB1389.  Senate Bill 2921 died in Committee.  HB1389 passed the House and is currently pending in the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee of the Senate.

My February 2 blog post ended with “It is good to see the MDWFP and the Legislature doing what it can to protect that economy from the unfortunate and probably inevitable day CWD reaches Mississippi.”  A week later, the inevitable occurred and reports surfaced that CWD was confirmed in a free range whitetail deer in Issaquena County, Mississippi.  According the the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks the deer was collected on collected on January 25, 2018 and was a 4.5-year-old male that died of natural causes.

Since the MDWFP confirmed CWD, a considerable amount of information and unfortunately, misinformation has occurred on social media and internet message forums.  I won’t bother to repeat any of what has come from the chicken littles.  If you would like to read the actual plan the MDWFP has prepared, you can read it here.  The immediate change for sportsmen is a ban on supplemental feeding in the counties  within the 25 mile buffer zone surrounding the first confirmed CWD deer (Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren, and Yazoo).  Suffice it to say, there will be modifications to the plan as they move forward with testing and additional information becomes available.  The MDWFP chronic wasting disease website will be updated as any developments occur.  If you want to read more about CWD, the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance has a very informative website that is updated frequently.

 

 

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Legislation of Interest to Mississippi Hunters – Part 1 – Wildlife Enclosures

Every year dozens of bills are introduced in the Mississippi Legislature that could impact hunters.  Most of those bills die in committee without a vote.  A few have survived the committee process this year that you may find of interest.  First up, wildlife enclosures.

The Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 2921 would require the owner of any wildlife enclosure to apply for and obtain a permit from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP).  The permit holder would also have to comply with any testing required by the MDWFP.  Likewise, if chronic wasting disease (CWD) is diagnosed within five miles of the enclosure, the permit holder would be required to allow members of the MDWFP to enter the enclosure to harvest deer to obtain tissue samples.  Further, if those samples contained CWD, the MDWFP would be allowed to enter the enclosure to depopulate the whitetail deer within the enclosure.

This legislation simply expands on the authority of the MDWFP contained in Miss. Code 49-7-58 (c) which provides “The Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall have plenary authority in matters related to the importation of white-tailed deer, white-tailed deer in enclosures, and prevention of the introduction of chronic wasting disease into the native wildlife population.”

According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD is a “contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.”

The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance has documented CWD in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

This legislation follows previous legislation and administrative rules of the MDWFP which:

  1.   Prevent the importation of live cervids (including whitetail deer and elk) from other states (Miss Code 49-7-58); and
  2.   Impose regulations regarding importing cervid carcasses from areas where CWD has been found (40 Miss. Admin Code, Part 2, Rule 2.7).

Hunting has a multi-billion dollar impact on Mississippi’s economy.  It is good to see the MDWFP and the Legislature doing what it can to protect that economy from the unfortunate and probably inevitable day CWD reaches Mississippi.

 

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