MDWFP Commissioner makes motion to suspend, sever relationship with wildlife foundation

Published 11:49 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

CLEVELAND — Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks commissioner Leonard Bentz made a proposal to end the department’s relationship with its foundation partner Thursday morning at the January commission meeting. His motion was not sustained by a second.

Currently, MDWFP has a partner foundation called the Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks with a direct link to donate to the foundation on the department’s homepage. MDWFP established the foundation in 2003 to “protect and preserve our wildlife heritage.” This foundation is the only foundation which directly supports the MDWFP.

Bentz made the proposal right before the commission meeting adjourned. He acknowledged the motion would be controversial. Bentz said they had some challenges with the foundation over the last few months.

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“I think it is important that we either suspend our relationship with them as of right now to get the plant in order or sever the relationship entirely. There are some challenges there. Thats my motion, to either suspend or sever the relationship with the wildlife, fisheries and parks foundation,” Bentz said

Commissioners Gary Rhodes, Scott Coopwood, William Mounger and Bill Cossar did not second Bentz’s motion so it failed.

Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks supports a variety of programs such as youth licenses, a scholarship program, LeFleur’s Bluff Playground, McIvor Shooting Facility, Archery in Mississippi Schools, Mississippi Scholastic Shooting Program, South Delta Flooding Support, Fire on the Forty, Fishing Rodeos put on by the MDWFP. The Foundation supports Law Fit, which allows game wardens to participate in fitness competitions, the spring gobbler hunting survey and the MDWFP Employee Emergency Fund.

Additionally, the Foundation supports Super Talk Outdoors Radio which routinely highlights projects, research and the men and women who work for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. SuperTalk Outdoors host Ricky Matthews has taken a stand for conservation and at times criticized the commission for making decisions which went against the department’s mission statement.

In October, Commissioner Bentz joined Rhodes in voting against using duck stamp funds for projects in Mississippi and in the north where the majority of Mississippi’s ducks come from. The motion to approve the duck stamp funding passed narrowly 3-2. Mississippi farmers and Matthews voiced concern over the two commissioners’ vote to not fund waterfowl conservation.