Why It Matters: Mississippi HB 998 and HB 1206 would have codified three key tenets of the most successful wildlife management model in the world, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation: (1)Wildlife resources are held in the public trust, or in other words, wildlife resources are owned by the public and managed by the government for the benefit of the public; (2) commercial hunting and the sale of wildlife is prohibited; and (3) Wildlife policy is formulated through the use of the best available science.
- On February 9, two bills aimed to strengthen the state of Mississippi’s responsibility to manage wildlife for the public’s benefit, guided by the best available science, stalled in the House of Representatives despite strong support from in-state and national conservation partners.
- House Bill 998 was sponsored by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Bill Kinkade. HB 998 clarified that the state is tasked with utilizing the best available science to manage wildlife, which is a resource held in the public trust.
- House Bill 1026, also sponsored by Caucus Member Representative Bill Kinkade, would have statutorily prohibited the sale of game birds, game animals, and game fish.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter in support of HB 998 and a letter in support of HB 1026 to Speaker Philip Gunn.
House Bill 998 would have codified that, “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, as well as the duty and authority to defend the public’s interest in the state’s wildlife, in accordance with sound scientific principles.”
HB 1026 would have aligned Mississippi state code with the tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, further protecting Mississippi’s cherished outdoor sporting traditions and the substantial conservation funding generated through the American System of Conservation Funding.
As CSF’s letter in support of HB 998 stressed, “Wildlife being held in the public trust is the first and arguably most important component of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.” CSF further argued that, “It is critical that policymakers collaborate with their state fish and wildlife agencies and the sportsmen’s community to maintain the scientific management of wildlife resources. Ensuring that wildlife remains in the public trust is essential to maintaining healthy, robust wildlife populations, sustaining opportunities for sportsmen and women, and safeguarding conservation funding through the “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding.”
CSF’s letter in support of HB 1026 stated, “A key tenet of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, one of the most successful wildlife conservation models in the world that has helped restore white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and numerous other species, is that wildlife are public trust resources owned by the public and managed by the government for the benefit of the public. A second key tenet of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is that commercial hunting and the possession and sale of wildlife is strictly prohibited.”
CSF is disappointed to see HB 998 and HB 1026 die on the calendar, but we thank Representative Kinkade for his leadership and support of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.