Saturday, October 25, 2014

Conservation Commission takes action to protect deer in Missouri

Public comments and dozens of public meetings showed overwhelming support for
proposed regulations to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.  The Conservation Commission unanimously voted to approve proposed amendments to regulations regarding the operation of hunting preserves and wildlife breeding facilities that hold white-tailed deer, mule deer, their hybrids, and other members of the deer family, known as cervids, to prevent the spread of diseases, including chronic wasting disease, to the state’s deer herd.
Actions by the Commission include:
  • Banning the importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, and their hybrids from other states.        The regulation still allows for the importation of semen for artificial insemination.
  • Requiring all facilities, existing and new, to maintain or construct a single 8-foot fence following specific standards detailed in the Wildlife Code of Missouri. Existing facilities would have 18 months to bring fencing into compliance. 
  • Requiring Class I and Class II wildlife breeders and big game hunting preserves to test all mortalities of deer that are older than six months for chronic wasting disease and allow permittees to apply for an exemption from mandatory testing requirements in the event of a mass-casualty event.
  • Requiring Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to participate in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved chronic wasting disease herd certification program.
  • Set requirements for disease testing, record-keeping, reporting disease test results, and complying with an established disease response plan in the event a disease is discovered.
  • Prohibiting any new captive-cervid facilities within 25 miles of a confirmed chronic wasting disease location for five years.
The regulation changes will go into effect Jan. 30, 2015.
More than 500,000 Missouri citizens enjoy deer hunting, sharing their hunting heritage and passing that heritage onto future generations. The spread of chronic wasting disease could negatively impact the future of Missouri deer hunting as well as negatively impacting deer-dependent businesses that support more than 12,000 Missouri jobs and generate over $1 billion in economic activity annually.
“Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that affects members of the deer family and, with no known cure, it is 100 percent fatal,” said MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper. “These amendments work to reduce the risk of chronic wasting disease spreading beyond the limited area where it has been found in northern Missouri to ensure the health of Missouri’s entire deer herd, including free-ranging and captive-cervids.”
In June, proposed amendments to the Wildlife Code of Missouri were filed with the Secretary of State and published in the Missouri Register with a 30-day public comment period, beginning July 16, with comments provided to the Conservation Commission for its consideration. 
In addition, MDC held public meetings around the state last summer to share information and gather public feedback. More than 40,000 comments were received with strong support for each of the proposed amendment changes. 
The final regulations will minimize risk associated with the movement and holding of captive deer and help protect Missouri’s deer herd from chronic wasting disease.
In 2011, the Conservation Commission approved regulation changes related to the free-ranging deer herd to help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease in northern Missouri. 
To learn more about these regulations or chronic wasting disease, go online to mdc.mo.gov.