2003 Regular Session
To: Wildlife and Fisheries
By: Senator(s) Posey, Dawkins
AN ACT TO REGULATE ENCLOSURES PREVENTING THE FREE EGRESS OF WHITE-TAILED DEER; TO REQUIRE OWNERS OF SUCH ENCLOSURES TO NOTIFY THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS FOR THE PURPOSE OF MONITORING CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE; TO REQUIRE SUCH OWNERS TO COMPLY WITH ANY REQUIRED TESTING OF HARVESTED DEER; TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT TO DEPOPULATE DEER WITHIN AN ENCLOSURE IF CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE IS DIAGNOSED; TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH ENCLOSURE RESTRICTIONS; TO REQUIRE OWNERS TO KEEP RECORDS; TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS TO DISPOSE OF ANIMALS UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS; TO AMEND SECTION 49-7-54, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR THE ILLEGAL IMPORTATION OF LIVE WHITE-TAILED DEER; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The Legislature finds chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy currently known to infect free-ranging deer and elk in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wisconsin. The disease has also infected farmed elk herds in South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. With the discovery of CWD in free-ranging deer on the east side of the Mississippi River and the transport of CWD-exposed elk to numerous states, CWD has become a national concern.
Little is known about the biology and pathogenesis of CWD, including how the disease agent enters the animal, how it multiplies in the body, how it causes disease and how it is transmitted. These significant research and knowledge gaps regarding the fundamental characteristics of the disease greatly impede plans to control the disease. The only effective control has been the destruction of captive cervids and the depopulation of wild cervids in large geographical areas. Because of the urgency of the situation and the potential devastating effects on the native wildlife and recreational economies of the states, the United States Department of Agriculture had formed a task force to formulate a national control program for chronic wasting disease. In addition, many states have imposed emergency statewide moratoriums on the importation of cervids. Emphasis is being placed preventing the introduction of the disease and extensive diagnostic testing of free-ranging and enclosed deer. There is an urgent need to know the location of enclosures that prevent the fee egress of deer. There has been a proliferation of enclosures that prevent the free egress of white-tailed deer. Deer are also being illegally imported into the state in violation of the ban on importation of deer under Section 49-7-54. These imported deer are usually placed in such enclosures.
Because of the potential devastating effect on native wildlife and the recreational economy dependent on wildlife and the urgency of the situation, the Legislature finds that to ensure public health and safety and the health and safety of native wildlife and domestic animals that immediate state action and chronic wasting disease legislation is warranted and in the public interest.
SECTION 2. (1) Any person who erects a fence that prevents the free egress of white-tailed deer from an enclosed area shall notify and register with the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. The person shall give his name, the location of the enclosure, the acreage within the enclosure, and whether any deer have been imported into the state and placed in the enclosure, and any other information required by the Commissioner on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
(2) Persons who constructed an enclosure prior to July 1, 2003, shall have until January 1, 2004, to notify and provide the information required under this section. The person shall use acceptable hunting and wildlife management practices as may be determined by the department.
(3) The owner of such an enclosure shall comply with any testing of white-tailed deer harvested within the enclosure as may be required by the department. The owner of such enclosure shall allow department personnel to enter the enclosure to utilize lethal collection methods to obtain tissue samples for CWD tests if CWD has been diagnosed within five (5) miles of the enclosure. If CWD is diagnosed within the enclosure, the owner shall allow department personnel to enter the enclosure and depopulate the white-tailed deer within the enclosure.
(4) A violation of this section is a Class II violation and is punishable as provided in Section 49-7-143. A second or subsequent violation of this section is a Class I violation and is punishable as provided in Section 49-7-141.
SECTION 3. The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is authorized to require the chronic wasting disease testing of white-tailed deer harvested within any enclosure. If chronic wasting disease is diagnosed in white-tailed deer within an enclosure, the department is authorized to enter the enclosure and depopulate the white-tailed deer within the enclosure. If chronic wasting disease is diagnosed within five (5) miles of the enclosure, the department is authorized to enter the enclosure and utilize lethal collection methods to obtain tissue samples.
SECTION 4. Section 49-7-54, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-7-54. (1) It is unlawful to import and translocate live white-tailed deer into this state, except that university research facilities may import live white-tailed deer upon prior approval of the commission. The commission shall establish regulations governing the importation of white-tailed deer with emphasis on preventing the introduction of diseases.
(2) A person who violates this section is guilty of a Class I violation and shall be punished as provided in Section 49-7-141.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.