An important message regarding proposed changes to landowner hunting rights by the Missouri Department of Conservation from the local Missouri State Representative, Ben Baker.

One of the most important responsibilities of a state representative is to help my constituents navigate the bureaucracy of government. It is a scary and eye-opening experience to see first-hand how unelected bureaucrats and administrators can implement rules and regulations within their departments that have far-reaching effects in the lives of Missourians. Many times, we don’t realize what is happening until it is too late. Here is an example that I don’t think my constituents will be happy with and I want to give a warning while you can still make your voice heard before the decision is final. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation has proposed a rule change that I believe would harm landowners and Missouri families across the State and we must make our concerns known. In May of this year, the MDC announced that they had a list of proposed rule changes and they would be accepting public comments regarding those changes. One of the rule changes adjusts acreage requirements for MDC’s definition of resident landowners from a current minimum of 5 to a minimum of 20 acres. This concerns me. Currently, Missourians who own 5 acres or more can hunt deer on their own property without having to buy a permit. This helps small landowners and farmers to protect their crops and property from the damaging effects of the deer population. So, under the new rule, if you own 5 to 20 acres you will have to pay the State to protect your own property! This to me is a ridiculous overstepping of the role of government. I believe this is really a back-door tax on hardworking and responsible landowners across our State. 

This is an example of unelected bureaucrats creating rules that actually harm Missouri families. Anyone from a rural area can tell you that deer are pests and we are already overpopulated with them in many areas of the State. They cause damage to property and vehicles, while also destroying crops. Many families (including mine) feed their family with deer meat harvested during deer season. Should government make families pay a backdoor tax to the State to feed their family? Absolutely not! This proposed rule change would only make life more difficult for hardworking families. 

I believe that if you own a piece of land you should have the freedom to manage that land as you see fit. These proposed changes by MDC are intruding on our rights as landowners by changing these definitions. This is just another opportunity for government to shake some more money out of our pockets and that is not acceptable to me! Missourians are already under enough pressure to have to pony up the taxes and fees already mandated for us to own our own property than to have to pay even more to harvest deer on our own land.

Missourians need to stand up and oppose this out of control bureaucracy and demand that the Department of Conservation back-off these unnecessary rule changes. If you agree, go to the link “short.mdc.mo.gov/z49 to comment on landowner acreage requirements, refer to “3 CSR 10-20.805 Definitions”. MDC needs to know this is bad policy and infringing on our rights as landowners. We must work together to hold our bureaucracy accountable. We as Missourians deserve more than finding out after its already too late that our rights have been taken again! 

-Ben Baker, Neosho,is the Missouri State Representative for the 160th District in Southwest Missouri.