Bills clarifying trade of game laws, wildlife as public entity die

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, February 16, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

JACKSON — Last October,  Attorney General Lynn Fitch released a legal opinion opening up the door to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commission to legalize the sale of deer. Mississippi’s legislature reacted with legislation to close those loopholes but they died quietly in both house and senate. 

Senate Bill 2536 would have clarified that it is unlawful to buy or sell, or offer to sell, any game birds, game animals or game fish unless specifically permitted by law as an exception passed by the legislature. However, it died in committee on January 31 with a similar bill in the House. Sometimes bills of similar nature are filled in both chambers so if one dies the other might survive. 

Senate Bill 2540’s intent was to “establish unequivocally that wildlife in Mississippi belongs to the citizens at large and the state has a duty to protect and sustain wildlife for the public’s benefit, as well as the duty and authority to defend the public’s interest in wildlife in accordance with sound scientific principles.” It was filled after the MDWFP commission decided to lift a supplemental feed ban in Claiborne County which is in close proximity to the 10 positive CWD cases in Tensas Parish. Like SB2536, it died in committee. 

Email newsletter signup

House Bill 998 would have done the same thing as SB2540 but it died on the calendar on February 9, 2023. House Bill 1026 would have done the same thing Senate Bill 2536 was trying to do but it too died on the calendar on February 9. 

Bill Kinkade, who is chairman of the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee, authored House Bills 998 and 1026. He said due to the election year they failed to move forward. The commission wanted to wait on additional information so they negotiated.

“The commission wanted us to wait so they could do an educational seminar to learn more about CWD and the effects in deer enclosures,” Kinkade said. “We didn’t see a need for those bills to be brought forward this year but they will still be out there. It is something we will try to get done. We are going to make sure the wildlife is protected in this state. It is a public property and we want to keep it as a public entity.” 

MDWFP’s commission has yet to discuss the trade of deer since it initially requested an opinion in January 2022.