Chronic Wasting Disease in Mississippi – Where to Find Current Information

On February 9, 2018, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks issued a press release stating that chronic wasting disease had been found in Mississippi.  The positive test came from a 4 1/2 year old buck that was collected on January 25, 2018, in Issaquena County.  Since that time much information and unfortunately, misinformation has come out.  If you are interested in reading the facts rather than the rumors, take a look at the following:

1. You can find regular updates on the MDWFP website:
https://www.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunti…sting-disease/

2. Officials from the MDWFP regularly appear on the MS Outdoors Radio which airs on the JT Show.  You can find the archives of these shows at http://www.supertalk.fm/audio-archives/j-t-archives/ The MDWFP also posts the videos from the MS Outdoors Radio programs on the news section of the MDWFP website which you can view at: https://www.mdwfp.com/media/news/

3. You can find regular updates on the MDWFP facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mdwfp%20/

4. You can find updates on the MDWFP twitter account which is @MDWFPonline.

5. The MDWFP held a meeting at the Natural Sciences Museum on February 26 and invited members of the public to participate. Over 100 sportmen attended the even and another couple hundred watched it live on facebook.   The MDWFP broadcasted the event live and then posted the video to their webpage, facebook and twitter. You can view that at https://www.mdwfp.com/media/news/wil…ublic-meeting/

6. MDWFP provided a video update yesterday on their facebook page regarding the progress with sampling and said they intend to schedule another public meeting (possibly in Vicksburg) in the near future.

7.  The MDWFP’s Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease.

8.  You can find national news updates regarding chronic wasting disease at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance’s website.

The sky isn’t falling, but this is a serious disease that will impact deer hunting in Mississippi for years to come.  Read the facts from the experts and keep a skeptical eye out for the misinformation that appears to be coming from the commercial high fence deer industry.

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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.

 

 

Legislation of Interest to Mississippi Hunters – Part 2 – Reporting of Deer and Turkey

Friday, I started a multi-part post about legislation of interest to Mississippi Hunters.  Part 1 discussed proposed legislation related to wildlife enclosures.  Next up is mandatory harvest reporting of deer and/or turkey.

The Committee substitute for Senate Bill 2922 provides in relevant part:

14 SECTION 1. Section 49-7-26, Mississippi Code of 1972, is
15 amended as follows:
16 49-7-26. (1) * * * The * * * commission * * * shall
17 develop, implement and regulate a * * * mandatory harvest
18 reporting program for white-tailed deer and/or turkey to collect
19 and compile harvest data * * * of such quality and quantity as to
20 be able to assist the Legislature and the commission in
21 formulating the wildlife resource conservation policy for the
22 State of Mississippi. The harvest reporting program authorized by
23 this section shall be a system that will be simple and usable by
24 all hunters so as to promote compliance and accurate reporting and
25 may include, but not be limited to, such means as a mobile smart
26 phone application, online web-based reporting, or such other
27 electronic or digital methods that promote ease of use by hunters.
28 (2) Hunters shall report deer and turkey that they harvest
29 within seventy-two (72) hours after the harvest. This subsection
30 shall not apply to deer harvested on private lands that are under
31 the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP).

32 ( * * *3) The department shall provide an annual report
33 regarding the harvest reporting program to the Wildlife, Fisheries
34 and Parks Committees of the Senate and the House of
35 Representatives.
36 * * *
37 ( * * *4) Each * * * violation of this section or of any
38 rule or regulation promulgated under this section is a separate
39 offense. A violation of this section is a Class III violation and
40 shall be punished as provided for in Section 49-7-101(1).
41 SECTION 2. No funds appropriated to the Mississippi
42 Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall be expended on a
43 tagging program to report the harvesting of wildlife.

Similar legislation is pending in the House as HB1390 and states:

8 SECTION 1. Section 49-7-26, Mississippi Code of 1972, is
9 amended as follows:
10 49-7-26. (1) (a) The Mississippi Department of Wildlife,
11 Fisheries and Parks * * * shall develop, implement and regulate
12 a * * * mandatory harvest reporting program for white-tailed deer
13 or wild turkey or both. The purpose of this program is to collect
14 and compile harvest data * * * of such quality and quantity as to
15 be able to assist the Legislature and the commission in
16 formulating the wildlife resource conservation policy for the
17 State of Mississippi.
18 (b) * * * The harvest reporting program shall be simple
19 to use by sportsmen so as to promote compliance and accurate
20 reporting. The program may include, but is not limited to, such
21 means as a mobile smartphone application, online web-based
22 reporting, or such other electronic or digital method(s) as will
23 promote ease of use.
24 (c) The department shall provide an annual report for
25 the harvest reporting program to the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks
26 Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
27 * * *
28 ( * * *2) Each deer or turkey taken or possessed in
29 violation of the * * * harvest reporting program is a separate
30 offense.
31 SECTION 2. Funds appropriated to the Mississippi Department
32 of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall not be expended on a
33 tagging program.

Both bills require the MDWFP to start a mandatory harvest reporting system for deer and/or turkey.  Neither bill requires tagging.  Both bills require the system to be simple to use and outline permissible methods, but leave the method of data collection to the MDWFP.  Both bills prohibit funds appropriated to the MDWFP from being used on a tagging program.

According to a 2016-2017 survey from the MDWFP  released in April of 2017, over 57% of those responding favored a mandatory harvest reporting system.

harvest reporting

The multi question survey was sent to over 300,000 individuals and over 13,000 responses were received. I am told that Mississippi had a tagging requirement many moons ago.  The reasons for its demise are as varied as the reasons I currently hear from people that do not support harvest reporting.

For the last several years I kept hearing rumors that “this will be the year” for harvest reporting or tagging to get passed.  Once again, it will be interesting to see how this legislation turns out.  If the survey is accurate and roughly 57% of Mississippi hunters wish to have a mandatory reporting program, they had best speak up and let their senators and representatives know.  While the hunters that oppose reporting appear to be in the minority, they are a very vocal minority.

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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