Bass Pro Shops Founder, Johnny Morris, “Very Much Opposed” to Transferring Control of Captive Deer
Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, sent the below letter to every member of the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives. Bass Pro Shops granted CFM permission to forward the letter to our entire membership and members of the media.
This week, the Missouri General Assembly convenes for their veto session. If you, like Mr. Morris, are opposed to the legislation that will strip authority of captive deer from the Missouri Department of Conservation, then contact your legislators TODAY and urge them NOT to support a veto override.
To find your Senator and Representative, CLICK HERE.
It has come to my attention that during the legislative session the General Assembly passed two omnibus agriculture bills (House Bill 1326 and Senate Bill 506) that attempt to redefine the term “livestock” in Missouri statues to include captive deer and put them into the same classification as cattle, sheep and chickens.
I understand that Governor Nixon vetoed the Bill from a constitutional perspective as the Missouri Constitution gives the Conservation Commission authority over the management and control of all game and wildlife resources of the State. White-tailed deer are wildlife, regardless of whether they are held in captivity or are free-ranging. The same is true of other wildlife species held in captivity, such as quail, black bear, mountain lions, timber rattlesnakes, raccoons, and squirrels.
Hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation have a significant positive impact on our state’s economy and quality of life. Over half a million citizens go deer hunting every fall throughout Missouri. This has a positive economic impact on our state’s economy and many small businesses. Deer hunting in Missouri generates over $1 billion dollars of business activity annually. That activity results in over $95 million dollars in state and local tax revenue each year.
A major loss to the white-tailed deer population in Missouri would be devastating to our company and to Missouri. White-tailed deer and deer hunting are a multi-generational and important family heritage for many generations of Missouri families.
All white-tailed deer face serious threats from diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The Department has been working diligently to address disease management for white-tailed deer, including regulation changes to help slow the spread and limit the prevalence and impact of diseases such as CWD.
I know the Missouri Department of Conservation is currently taking the pulse of Missouri citizens on policy related to captive deer facilities and shooting preserves. I also know that our citizens are supportive of taking steps to protect our deer population through improved regulations for deer breeding facilities and shooting preserves.
I am very much opposed to the override of the Governor’s veto. An override could put our wild deer population in jeopardy. We can’t take that chance.
Thank you for your consideration.