MDWFP commission takes the right step

Published 8:07 am Friday, February 23, 2024

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commission took a step in the right direction Thursday. It took public outcry from sportsmen and legislation calling for reform for this commission to adopt a new tone at the February commission meeting in regards to Chronic Wasting Disease. 

Commissioners voted to place Claiborne County fully in a Chronic Wasting Disease Management zone again Thursday following a positive detection this year. Readers familiar with the saga may recall the Commission voted to move the parts of the county east of the Mississippi out of the CWD management zone in Nov. 2022. 

The decision made in 2022 was in defiance of science and best management practices for mitigating CWD. It was a decision taken without being on the agenda, aside from a public comment asking for the feed ban to be rescinded. 

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When a Claiborne County landowner called the commission out for their actions in a meeting in Dec. 2022 and Jan. 2023, the commission ignored his plea to reverse the decision. 

Six years after first detection of CWD and a year after rescinding the CWD management zone in Claiborne County the commission changed its tone and started to discuss CWD seriously. It is a step in the right direction.

For once, commissioners voiced their ideas to act on CWD with careful thought, consideration and public input. Not only that, they asked the wildlife bureau for input about a supplemental feed ban statewide. A supplemental feed ban statewide could not only help deer management and hunting but it may help the state’s turkey population.  

Thank you commissioners for listening and rethinking the issues impacting our wildlife. Hopefully, the commission will keep an open mind moving forward and continue its approach from February. 

Sportsmen should know this though. This commission sat through a very informative Chronic Wasting Disease educational session in the Jan. 2023 commission meeting. I drove all the way to Cleveland, Mississippi to cover the meeting and walked away with more knowledge than I had before.  

The commission had ample opportunities to read more about the disease and learn from the CWD educational meetings held in Mississippi. MDWFP’s Commission has access to the experts on CWD and wildlife management at MDWFP and Mississippi State University. This commission could have already gathered information and begun the public input for CWD management a long time ago.  

CWD should have been a concern from the beginning and should have been taken seriously by this commission long before February’s meeting. 

I’m thankful the commission took a step today to turn the boat around and work towards making the choices to better protect our natural resources. I hope it is not too late for our wildlife. 

I encourage sportsmen to continue to support the conservation of deer and other wildlife. Please stay informed, stay in-touch and pay attention. Let’s continue to be good stewards.