Lincoln County Rep. Vince Mangold co-authors three wildlife bills

Published 3:50 pm Monday, January 29, 2024

JACKSON — Lincoln County Rep. Vince Mangold co-authored three wildlife bills introduced into the Mississippi House of Representatives Monday. The bills would put money into the Outdoor Stewardship Fund, prohibit the sale of game animals unless permitted by the legislature and charge the state with defending the public’s access to wildlife. 

House Bill 732, introduced by representative Bill Kinkade, would provide that the state has a duty to protect and sustain wildlife for the public’s benefit. It is similar to house bill 43 but is co authored by 12 representatives. According to the bill’s information, 10 of the authors are members of the house Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee. 

“The wildlife in Mississippi belongs to the citizens of the state at large and the state has a duty to protect and sustain its wildlife for the public’s benefit,” the bill states. “As well as the duty and authority to defend the public’s interest in the state’s wildlife, in accordance with sound scientific principles.” 

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Legislation similar to HB732 died last year. Those bills were initially written in response to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commission changing the Chronic Wasting Disease response plan contrary to scientific principles and best management practices. Kinkade promised then that they would bring those bills forward again to “wildlife is protected in this state. It is a public property and we want to keep it as a public entity,” in an interview with The Daily Leader last February. HB732 was referred to the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks House Committee. 

Funding outdoor stewardship

House Bill 733, introduced by Kinkade and co-authored by 11 legislators including Mangold, would deposit a portion of sales tax revenue into the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. Sales tax collected by sporting good stores would be deposited into the Stewardship Trust Fund. 

HB733 states $833,333.34 would be the amount deposited into the fund this year. The bill would also direct $1 million of sales tax revenue from those stores to be deposited into the trust fund after a year from August 2025 to July 2026 and direct  $1.25 million of sales tax revenue into the trust fund for the year from August 2026 to July 2026. The bill was referred to the  Ways and Means House Committee. 

Mississippi’s Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund is helping outdoor related projects across the state. Locally, funding from the trust fund will help Camp Kamassa in Copiah County provide people with special needs access to the outdoors.  

Closing a loophole

House Bill 731 would prohibit the sale of game animals unless otherwise permitted by the legislature. A similar piece of legislation was introduced last year after an opinion by Mississippi’s Attorney General  Lynn Fitch opened the door to possibly legalize the trade of white-tailed deer. HB731, introduced by Kinkade and co-authored by 11 other legislators including Mangold, would look to close the legal loophole by specifying the legislature would have to change the law. 

The bill states “except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to buy or sell, or to offer for sale, exchange for merchandise, or other consideration, within this state any game birds, game animals or game fish or parts thereof named in this chapter, whether taken within or coming from without the state except as specifically permitted by law as an exception by the legislature in this chapter.” 

The trade of live white-tailed deer is a concern for Mississippi because of the risk it could spread Chronic Wasting Disease or introduce the 100 percent fatal disease to deer in new uninfected areas. Last week, two Louisiana men were convicted of conspiring to transport live deer into a facility north of Natchez in Adams County. 

HB731 was referred to the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks house committee.

Check back for more updates on the 2024 Mississippi Legislative Session.