NDA Opposes Mississippi Attorney General Opinion Regarding Movement of Captive Deer

November 16, 2022 By: Torin Miller

The National Deer Association (NDA) recently co-authored a coalition letter to the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (Commission) expressing our concerns with a Mississippi Attorney General opinion regarding the authority of the commission to promulgate a regulation regarding commercial trade of white-tailed deer within high-fenced enclosures. The NDA was joined on the letter by a number the leading state and national conservation organizations.

According to the opinion, the Commission believes that Mississippi Law grants the Commission the authority to promulgate a regulation allowing for the commercial trade of white-tailed deer held within high-fenced enclosures between registered white-tailed deer captive breeders. Despite state law expressly prohibiting the buying and selling of white-tailed deer and a previous Attorney General opinion concluding to the contrary, the Attorney General has now concluded that “the Commission could craft a regulation allowing for the commercial trade of white-tailed deer held within high-fenced enclosures between registered captive breeders without specifically contravening an express legislative act.”

Not only do we believe this conclusion is erroneous and contrary to Mississippi law, but we have significant conservation concerns should the Commission promulgate a regulation allowing for the commercial trade of white-tailed deer held within high-fenced enclosures. Specifically, we have concerns about disease transmission – namely, chronic wasting disease (CWD) – should the Commission allow for the commercial trade and live movement of captive white-tailed deer between captive deer facilities, both intra and interstate.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) already has taken significant steps to limit the spread of CWD and other diseases in the state, both in wild and captive herds. We unequivocally support those measures and the currently regulatory structure and classification of captive deer in the state. We strongly disagree with the Attorney General opinion that the Commission could craft a regulation allowing for the commercial trade of white-tailed deer held within high-fenced enclosures between registered captive breeders, and we strongly discourage the promulgation of any regulation by the Commission to that effect.

About Torin Miller:

Torin Miller is a licensed attorney and NDA’s Director of Policy. He works at the intersection of conservation and natural resources law, policy, advocacy and education. He has a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn State University, a J.D. from Penn State Law and is finishing a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State. Torin came to NDA via the National Deer Alliance, where he served as the Policy and Outreach Coordinator.