MO Deer Breeders Meet with State Reps to Ask for No More MDC Regulation

August 20, 2013

At the second of four meetings before a committee of state representatives, deer breeders again made the argument that they would be better off regulated by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and not the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Missouri lawmakers could change the way a growing livelihood is regulated and deer breeders are begging them to.

Monday a committee of state representatives met for the second of four meetings with the deer breeding industry to discuss whether they're in the business of wild life or agriculture.  Right now it's wildlife with the Missouri Department of Conservation at the helm, and the MDC and the breeders have been butting heads since 2010.
Inside an auditorium in Buffalo, Missouri, before a committee of state representatives deer breeders from around the area vehemently defend their livelihood against what they call unfounded accusations.

"Currently at this time in Missouri there's a problem in the free ranging herd.  There's no problem in the captive herd," explains breeder Sam James in his testimony before the Interim Committee on Chronic Wasting Disease.  Its job is to-- you guessed it-- prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, but the committee could do so much more than that.

It could take power away from the Missouri Department of Conservation and give it completely to the Missouri Department of Agriculture that already regulates disease in deer breeding and high fence hunting facilities. And the state ag director says that regulation has improved since CWD was found in a north Missouri captive herd in 2010.

"Our record keeping is more accurate, our ability to trace animals is more effective and our disease testing protocol is stronger and so when you add those three together the progress we've made over the last three years is tremendous," explains John Hagler.

Breeders voluntarily test 100% of their dead animals; the testing rate on wild deer is just a fraction of that, but the MDC wants more safety measures.

 "We have to make sure everything that's going on protects the wild herd and reduces that risk as much as we can," says Mike Hubbard with the MDC.

That means expensive double fencing and more mandatory testing.  The breeders say it will drive them out of business unless they stop doing business under the Missouri Department of Conservation.

 "We're working with the Department of Ag, meeting with them; we're going to do business and do it the proper way," Sam James concludes.

 There are two more public hearings this fall but right now the MDC can implement any regulations it sees fit.  That's unless the legislature passes a bill that classifies deer breeding as agriculture, putting it under the Department of ag.  That can't happen until, at the earliest, when this next legislative session begings in January.,0,507025.story

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