American Cervid Alliance

Missouri Department of Conservation's Abuse of Power Spurs Legislation

January 29, 2015

The following commentary has been submitted by Missouri State Representative Bryan Spencer
Conservation Begins to Overstep Boundaries:
Last year, several representatives had concerns with the MDC regulating businesses out of business. Agree or disagree about the type of business, the Missouri Whitetail Deer Association has been in business for several decades. Not only are they a profitable business, but they help to define what private-sector conservation should look like. One of their most notable business ventures has been to help restock western Texas deer herds after they were depleted from a devastating 2012 drought. In response, many legislators have asked several questions of MDC, and the answers have not been satisfactory. Why is a bureaucracy regulating a business out of business? Why now, after decades of existence? The Missouri Whitetail Deer Association has been in operations for about four decades. Now regulations are being implemented which would force all captive cervid farms out of business due to the expense to remain in operation. Many pieces of information and misinformation have traveled; not only throughout the hallways of the capitol but also through the different pathways of the public. This is another case of how the truth doesn’ t necessarily matter-only what you get the public to believe is the truth.
What We Know, and What We Don’t Know
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)is a disease of many different unknown factors. Such factors include nature of the transmission, gestation period and how it is carried from one animal to another. CWD is a neurological disease that affects the brain causing the animal to have behaviors that affects eating patterns. There is a test that can determine if the animal is affected by CWD by taking brain tissue. The test cannot be administered to a live animal. There is an unproven test that the MDC uses, taken from a rectal sampling. MDC has deemed it as an appropriate test for themselves, but the test is not a valid test for the captive  cervid farmers.
Elk were eradicated from Missouri in 1865. MDCis currently trying to reintroduce elk to Missouri. According to the Missouri State Auditor Report, MDC spent $3.4 million on 129 elk. Elk are susceptible to brainworm, blue tongue and CWD. Elk and deer share the same type of diseases. The first case of CWD was detected in an area around Macon, Missouri. Captive cervid farmers have been blamed for this contamination by the MDC.
I have visited several captive cervid farms throughout Missouri, both on announced and unannounced visits. Deer farmers have their livestock seen by a veterinarian every year they are vaccinated. Every interaction with the deer population is well documented and appears very well maintained. The deer farmer’s livestock has to maintain a CWD free status and are CWD free rated by the state and individual farm. Livestock cervids only cross state lines if they are from a CWD free state. Farmers are very careful purchases of cervid due to the ratings ofthe state and individual farm will affect their ratings. I personally was impressed with their operation. Growing up on a beef farm in Rolla; I will interject that the cervid farms were immaculate in comparison to the farm I was raised on.
Is MDC bringing in diseases by elk introduction that may hurt the deer population in Missouri?
Are the MDC blaming the cervid farmers for the MDC actions or what can accrue naturally? So
far, the answer appears to be unknown.
The 2015 session has begun and the Department of Conservation has emerged as a concern for not only me, but for many of my colleagues as well. Among the bills currently filed:
SB 56-Modifies hunting, fishing, and trapping permit fees for Missouri residents
HJR8-Proposes a constitutional provision repealing the conservation sales and use tax.
HJR27-Proposes a constitutional amendment reducing the conservation sales tax from 1/8 to 1/16 of a cent. (Talk about an amendment to appropriate the freed 1/16 of a cent to MoDOT.)
HJR28-Proposes a constitutional amendment requiring the conservation sales tax to be approved by the voters every (10) ten years
HB 315-Requires the Department of Conservation to conduct testing of deceased deer found
along state highways for chronic wasting disease.
HB 316-Requires Conservation Commission members to register as lobbyists upon appointment by the Governor and to the follow all lobbyist rules and regulations
HB 317-Requires the Department of Conservation to reimburse automobile owners up to $500 for damages to their vehicles by deer.
HB 318-Prohibits Department of Conservation to agents from entering poultry barns without notifying the owner and requires agents entering the barns to take necessary precautions to prevent contamination.

Please click the link to view Representative Spencer's complete report.

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