Contact: Clay Chester, Southeastern States Coordinator
On July 3, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined conservation partners to submit a letter to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commission (Commission) regarding the proposed rule on Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone Delineation.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is an always-fatal, neurological disease in cervids that can be transmitted to other cervids through bodily fluids and tissues. When CWD was first detected in Mississippi’s deer herd in 2018, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) established two CWD Management Zones (North and Issaqueena) that created a 25-mile radius around the location of a CWD-positive deer. Within these CWD Management Zones, transporting deer carcasses and supplemental feeding were banned.
During the Commission’s June meeting, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) staff were tasked with reducing the CWD Management Zone 25-mile radius to a 10-mile radius while establishing CWD Surveillance Zones that would stretch from the 10-mile radius boundary to the 25-mile radius boundary. In the CWD Surveillance Zones, the carcass transport restriction would apply but supplemental feeding would be permitted.
CSF and others urged the Commission to follow national best management practices to manage the spread of CWD. The letter expressed support for maintaining the current structure of the CWD Management Zones and continuing the ban on supplemental feeding within the CWD Management Zones.
The letter stated, “Adhering to strict best management practices, like those outlined by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and following the guidance of expert staff biologists is key to slowing the spread of CWD in Mississippi’s wild deer herd. We strongly ask that you continue to follow the expert guidance of MDWFP staff and national best practices that are the result of scientific studies to maintain the current CWD Management Zones at the 25-mile radius and continue to prohibit supplemental feeding within those CWD Management Zones.”
The Commission is scheduled to address the proposed rule on July 16. CSF will work with conservation partners to monitor the rulemaking process moving forward.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?