A fundamental tenet of the Conservation Department for more than 75 years has been that, “The hope of wildlife restoration and conservation in Missouri lies in the three-way cooperation of the state, the landowner, and the public, based upon adequate information and mutual understanding.” Working together, citizens, landowners, and Department staff have achieved many significant and valuable conservation advancements.
Missouri’s forest, fish, and wildlife resources enhance our quality of life, connect us to our outdoor heritage, support more than 95,000 Missouri jobs, and contribute $11.5 billion to the state’s economy annually. Conservation continues to be a wise investment.
One of the Department’s five broad goals is to ensure healthy and sustainable forest, fish, and wildlife resources throughout the state. Despite the many challenges to this goal, our Department and Missouri citizens are making great strides.
Monitoring and minimizing adverse effects from diseases is a Department priority. Examples range from whirling disease in fish, thousand cankers disease in forests, or chronic wasting disease in wildlife. Wildlife resources enjoyed today could be lost if we fail to review management practices, monitor disease movement, and take preventive actions.
As the Department works to ensure healthy and sustainable resource populations, it is essential to focus on all species. As an example, ensuring sustainable fish populations requires attention to our rivers, streams, and lakes, as well as commercial facilities. In a similar example, ensuring healthy forests requires management considerations for forests in rural and urban areas, as well as in commercial nurseries. The same holds true for one of our state’s most popular wildlife species — white-tailed deer. Missouri’s deer herd includes both free-ranging and captive animals.
White-tailed deer in Missouri are an important part of many Missourians’ lives and family traditions, including 520,000 deer hunters and more than 2 million wildlife watchers. In addition, Missouri’s deer herd is an important economic driver supporting 12,000 Missouri jobs and providing a $1 billion boost to state and local economies. Missouri offers some of the best deer hunting in the country.
Chronic wasting disease has been found in both captive and free-ranging deer in north-central Missouri. During the past few years, the Department has been working with hunters, landowners, conservation partners, and businesses to detect cases of this disease and limit its spread. To date, regulation changes associated with managing the free-ranging deer herd have been implemented in six north Missouri counties.
In addition, the Department has been working with the captive deer industry, landowners, hunters, and others to review management practices and requirements related to holding captive deer. These efforts have identified areas of existing Wildlife Code regulations associated with captive deer that need to be enhanced. Areas include existing fencing standards, animal testing standards, inventory requirements, and interstate transport.
Building on previous steps, over the next two months, the Department will conduct public meetings and gather comments from Missourians regarding possible Wildlife Code changes associated with holding captive deer. Information received will help inform our future management decisions. The goal is to maintain Missouri’s healthy deer herd for the long term.
Please share your views, become familiar with this issue, and encourage other Missourians to be informed and get involved in protecting Missouri’s white-tailed deer. See the article Attend a Meeting About White-Tailed Deer on Page 8 for dates and locations of public forums. For more information, or to make a comment, visit the Department’s website.
I encourage all citizens to become informed on disease topics. Your feedback and involvement is needed as we all work to keep healthy and sustainable forest, fish, and wildlife resources for future generations.
Robert L. Ziehmer, director
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