The Conservation Commission 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. The changes would become part of the agency’s strategy to minimize fatal disease risks to the state’s deer herd.
The Conservation Commission approved Regulations Committee recommendations that will:
• Require the facility of a new permit applicant for Class I and Class II wildlife breeder or big-game hunting preserves to be double fenced. Existing facilities having the same permit holder will operate under current fencing requirements. As with all the proposed amendments, the commission is actively seeking public comment on fencing amendments;
• Require new applicants for Class I Wildlife Breeder Permits to hold white-tailed deer, white-tailed deer-hybrids, mule deer, or mule deer-hybrids (deer), to pass a written examination provided by the department and have an on-site inspection prior to and after construction of the breeding facility as part of the application process;
• Prohibit importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, or their hybrids into the state;
• Prohibit the display of live deer other than as is listed on permits;
• Prohibit the construction of any new Class I or Class II wildlife breeding facilities for deer within 25 miles of a location where CWD-positive animal or animals have been confirmed by the conservation department;
• Require 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 CWD;
• Require Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to report confirmed positive-disease results to the conservation department;
• Require Class I and Class II wildlife breeders to comply with a herd-disease response plan approved by the conservation department in the event that CWD is discovered;
• Require Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to maintain participation in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved CWD herd certification program;
• Establish a stipulation that the conservation department can require additional disease sampling and testing during disease investigations or morbidity/mortality events at Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer;
• Require source herds for deer and elk at Class I and Class II wildlife breeder facilities that hold deer to be enrolled in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved CWD herd certification program;
• Establish a requirement for Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to conduct an annual herd inventory in the presence of an accredited veterinarian during the annual inventory, the signature of an attending accredited veterinarian on herd records, individual animal identification, and individual animal documentation including results of CWD testing;
• Set a minimum period of time that records must be kept by Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer;
• Prohibit the propagation, holding in captivity, and hunting of hogs within a big-game hunting preserve unless already approved by a specific date;
•Set a requirement for holders of Licensed Big Game Hunting Preserve Permits to conduct disease testing, report disease test results, maintain movement documentation, adhere to fencing standards, and comply with a disease response plan in the event CWD is discovered;
• Set a minimum period of time that movement records must be kept by holders of Licensed Big Game Hunting Preserve Permits;
• Prohibit the use of imported deer or elk (cervids) in a licensed big game hunting preserve;
• Prohibit the construction of any new big-game hunting preserve within 25 miles of a location where a CWD-positive animal or animals have been confirmed by the Conservation Department;
• Require source herds for deer and elk at big-game hunting preserves to be enrolled in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved CWD herd certification program;
• Establish a requirement for more information within inventories and record keeping for cervids on big-game hunting preserves;
• Require a minimum period of time that records must be kept for cervids on big-game hunting preserves.
In approving the changes, the commission emphasized the importance of an informed, involved public to ensure the health of Missouri’s deer herd now and in the future. Details of the proposed regulation changes will be published in the Missouri register. A presentation regarding captive-deer regulation changes is available at mdc.mo.gov/node/28400. The conservation department encourages Missourians to review this presentation and comment on the changes. Comments can be submitted online at mdc.mo.gov/deerhealth or on comment cards available at conservation department regional offices and nature centers.
The proposed amendments are designed to ensure the health of Missouri’s entire deer herd, which includes free-ranging and captive-cervids. These proposed amendments work to reduce the risk of this fatal disease (CWD) from spreading beyond the limited area where it has been found, while minimizing the economic impact on the captive-cervid industry and the communities and businesses that benefit from deer hunting and deer-related activities.
CWD is a fatal disease that affects members of the deer family, collectively called cervids. It is different and unrelated to the recent outbreak of hemorrhagic diseases. Those diseases – blue tongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease – are caused by viruses and are often not fatal. Their effects are short-term and localized. However, hemorrhagic diseases have been in Missouri for years, and white-tailed deer are adapted to cope with them.
Over 500,000 citizens enjoy deer hunting, sharing their hunting heritage and passing that heritage on to future generations. Missourians consume millions of pounds of venison and share with neighbors in need through the Share the Harvest Program. The spread of CWD could negatively impact deer-dependent businesses that support more than 12,000 Missouri jobs and generate over $1 billion in economic activity annually.
Proposed changes to the Wildlife Code of Missouri would give white-tailed deer an extra measure of protection against this fatal disease.
Also on Friday, the commission suspended hunting, fishing, and/or trapping privileges of 22 Missouri residents and three nonresidents for Wildlife Code violations. Those whose privileges were suspended include Erik E. Casas, Wheaton, who loses hunting privileges for 2 1/2 years.