Explainer: Previous wildlife legislation could help Mississippi
Published 4:01 pm Thursday, December 22, 2022
BROOKHAVEN — Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is actively investigating a road hunting case in Forrest County which resulted in seven deer being illegally harvested. This case was reported to the MDWFP commission at their December meeting last week and highlights the need for mandatory tagging. It is a need only the Legislature can address.
MDWFP Commissioner Bill Cossar routinely says the crackdown on road hunting and spotlighting is due to safety concerns. He reminds hunters of this when they appear before the commission to ask for their hunting license privileges to be reinstated. The violators usually admit they knew what they did was wrong and yet they still did it anyway.
A tool which could help MDWFP continue to enforce regulations to protect residents and deer would be a mandatory tagging system for deer. Louisiana requires hunters to tag their deer either physically or electronically but Mississippi operates off of an honor system.
Currently, hunters can voluntarily report their harvest of deer through GameCheck on the MDWFP’s phone app or website but it is not required. Mississippi’s House of Representatives wrote and passed legislation to create a mandatory harvest reporting system last legislative session but it was not passed by the senate. Mandatory tagging is only required for wild turkeys in Mississippi currently.
A required tagging system would be a tool to help MDWFP law enforcement catch violators who take over the legal bag limit of deer or use illegal means to kill deer. Mandatory tagging would also help the MDWFP collect better deer data on a county by county basis to aid management decisions.
Mississippi’s legislature will return for its 2023 regular session in January.
In the 2022 legislative session, the Senate and House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committees drafted and helped pass legislation creating a September Velvet buck season, allowing outdoorsmen to designate being organ donor on MDWFP licenses and creating the Mississippi Outdoors Forever Stewardship Fund.