The Missouri Department of Conservation Regulation committee approved two proposed amendments to the Wildlife Code of Missouri regarding deer breeding and hunting facilities in an effort to protect Missouri deer.
The two amendments will indefinitely suspend the authorization of permits for establishing new wildlife breeding and big-game hunting facilities housing white-tail deer or mule deer throughout the state in an effort to combat the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, said Randy Doman, MDC protection division field chief.
CWD is a neurological infection that attacks a deer’s nervous system tissue, such as the brain and spinal cord, said Marsha Jones, Adair County Conservation agent. She said scientists theorize that the disease is spread through nose-to-nose contact between deer and contact with infected feeding sources.
Jones said CWD is thought to have been brought into Missouri by infected deer transported from another state. Five wild deer with CWD have been found throughout Missouri. All cases were found within a six-county containment zone that includes Adair County, she said.
The goal of the amendments is to prevent formation of facilities until a review and regulation of CWD has been completed, Doman said. He said this will limit the number of healthy deer potentially exposed to an infected deer that has been transported from another area in order to populate a new facility.
“When you get involved in inter- or intra- state movement of captive cervids, that can have the potential to increase the risk of the spread of the disease,” Doman said.
The proposed amendments must go through a process before they can become regulations, he said. Both proposals were published by the MDC in the Missouri Register on Oct. 1, Doman said. Missouri residents can view the proposals until Oct. 31 and voice comments or concerns regarding the proposals at the MDC website.
The public comments will be reviewed by the Regulation Committee and the amendments will then be adjusted appropriately, Doman said. The amendments will then go through MDC’s chain of command and eventually will be voted upon by the Conservation Commission. If the Commission votes to pass the proposals, the changes will be filed through the Secretary of State’s office, he said.
Doman said MDC does not know how long this process might take. If the amendments are approved, no new permits will be given for an indefinite period of time, he said.
The MDC also is putting other measures in place to help stop the spread of CWD, Doman said. Two hunting regulations were approved earlier this year for the six counties within the containment zone and the MDC is working on a long-term plan to fight the disease, he said.
“We’re doing our best to contain [CWD] in that six-county area because it’s a very serious concern,” Doman said. “[Controlling the disease] is a very high priority for the department.”
Senior Garrett Grider said he frequently hunts throughout Missouri and he said he is not too concerned about CWD. He said he thinks the hunting season will eliminate most of the threat of the disease spreading.
Jones said questions or concerns regarding CWD or new hunting policies can be directed to the regional conservation department at 660-785-2420.
The proposed amendments can be found at www.sos.mo.gov and citizens can voice their opinions about the code at mdc.mo.gov until October 31.