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Examiner
  • Kenneth Kieser: Beware, Missouri outdoors enthusiasts

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  • I have never been politically motivated – until now. My main focus has always been the outdoor world with sound conservation work and rewards like great hunting, fishing or viewing various types of wildlife in their habitat.
    The definition of conservation is “wise use,” a term that reflects common sense. I often wonder how some politicians were ever elected to office. The very definition of conservation seems to have eluded them! Make no mistake, this group would sacrifice your Missouri outdoors for their own political agendas – even if they don’t understand or care about the final outcome.
    How you enjoy the outdoors is your business. How to make the Missouri outdoors enjoyable is the Missouri Department of Conservation's and other groups’ responsibility. They do it right. I have traveled the country and learned that our MDC is considered by most other state conservation groups as the best.
    The one-eighth of one percent conservation sales tax has generated millions over the past several years and given the MDC capital to work with. Governor Jay Nixon has added to this by vetoing ridiculous bills proposed by the certain politicians. But once again, the vultures are attacking.
    “Certain politicians are determined to destroy our unique system of citizen-led conservation governance,” said Brandon Butler, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. “We must pay close attention to politicians trying to control conservation – a big mistake.”
    The Conservation Federation of Missouri is a watchdog for our state’s conservation efforts. They keep a close eye on all that is going on, including bogus laws trying to be passed. We have never needed them more than right now.
    “Conservation’s constitutional authority to manage our wildlife resources and the revenue source needed to carry it out are both at risk right now by legislation passed in the final hours of the legislative session,” Governor Nixon said in a recent speech presented to the Conservation Federation of Missouri. “Conservation would be reduced by $12.3 million each and every year. Based on projected revenue growth, that comes to more than $137 million over the next 10 years being stripped from the department’s budget.”
    You don’t have to be a financial genius to realize the fiscal cuts our MDC would have to make and how it would affect wildlife and the outdoors. But eventually you will realize the significance of these budget cuts in the quality of the outdoor experiences we have all taken for granted. Sadly, this attack on our conservation system doesn’t stop there.
    Other bills trying to be passed, Senate Bill 506 and House Bill 1326, are redefining the term “livestock” in Missouri statutes to include high-fence or captive deer and put them into the same classification as cattle and other domesticated animals to strip the MDC of its management over Missouri’s deer herd, shifting that responsibility to the Department of Agriculture. I strongly question exactly what the Department of Agriculture knows about managing a deer herd?
    Page 2 of 2 - Even worse, this would stop current efforts made by MDC deer biologists to protect Missouri’s deer herd from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which has now spread to a dozen states and Canada, killing thousands of deer.
    “In 2002, the department began testing Missouri deer for CWD,” Governor Nixon said. “And between that time and 2010, zero Missouri native deer tested positive. But in 2010 and 2011, CWD was detected at private big-game ranches in Linn and Macon counties and in free-ranging deer killed close by, with the discovery of 11 positives inside the fence and 10 positives in deer just outside the fence.”
    This is exactly the reason biologists go to college and then work exclusively to study deer and protect herds from this type of devastating outbreak. How do you think the Department of Agriculture would handle this outbreak? They wouldn’t, and Missouri deer season would soon become a fond memory of the old days when Missouri had deer to hunt or watch.
    Thankfully, the MDC is still in charge of deer herds. Governor Nixon said that the MDC recently responded quickly and effectively to stop the disease from spreading, creating a six-county containment zone and working with land owners, hunters and game ranches.
    “The Department has spent more than $1 million in the last four years trying to detect and manage this disease, and to this point, these efforts have been successful,” Nixon said. “But rather than build on this success, these two bills would dismantle it.”
    Redefining deer, captive or wild, as livestock and attempting to strip the MDC of its authority on any level is suicide for our beloved Missouri outdoor resources.
    Do you love the Missouri outdoors and wildlife? Then visit the Conservation Federation of Missouri website and read up on what is happening in Jefferson City. While there, I encourage you to join this worthwhile organization that is becoming more important to sportsmen or nature lovers by the minute.
    Please take time from your busy lives and act on this huge problem. Learn more about this disaster and discover which politicians are willing to sell out our outdoor resources for their own political agendas, and then vote them out of office.
    Find out who your senators and representatives are and ask that both bills (Senate Bill 506 and House Bill 1326) are vetoed. That is the only way our grandchildren will someday enjoy the outdoors we have been blessed to know instead of hearing about the good old days when deer roamed the Missouri woods and wild game to hunt was easy to find.
    Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at kkieser@comcast.net

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