PRESS RELEASE: Court Temporarily Blocks New MDC Captive Cervid Regulations

Jefferson City, MO | September 4, 2015 – In the case of Donald Hill, et al., v. Missouri Conservation Commission, Judge Robert D. Schollmeyer of the 20th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri has granted a preliminary injunction, keeping the Missouri Department of Conservation from enforcing the new captive cervid regulations that went into effect January 30, 2015.

The lawsuit was filed last November by several plaintiffs who raise captive deer, allow shooting of captive deer in high-fence enclosures or broker sales of captive deer.

The MDC is now “prohibited from directly or indirectly relying on or enforcing the regulations challenged in this matter.” These regulations include banning the importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, and their hybrids from other states; improving fencing requirements for new and expanding captive facilities; requiring all deer six months or older that die in captive-cervid facilities to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease; and prohibiting any new captive-cervid facilities within 25 miles of where Chronic Wasting Disease has been confirmed.

“Although this is a set back in the ultimate goal of protecting Missouri’s wildlife from diseases imported into our state by commercial operators, we know this is just the first step in the legal process, and we expect the higher courts will rule on behalf of the Department and the millions of Missourians who cherish our state’s wildlife,” said Steve Jones, Co-chair of the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s Chronic Wasting Disease Committee.

In Missouri, Chronic Wasting Disease was first discovered in captive-deer operations in Macon and Linn counties. Discovering CWD in captive deer has become an all too familiar story, as CWD has been found in numerous captive-deer operations in more than a dozen states. The disease is always fatal to infected animals. There is no cure. The disease is thought to spread between captive deer and wild deer by direct contact through fences and infected captives escaping into the wild.

“Because of this injunction, a CWD infected deer from another state can now once again be shipped into Missouri and released into a fenced operation where it may infect the other captive deer it’s confined with as well as wild deer it encounters through the fence,” said Brandon Butler, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

According to testimony of one of the plaintiffs, the Missouri Deer Association, whose mission is to be a voice for the whitetail breeders and hunting ranches, is funding the lawsuit for the plaintiffs.

A trial date for a final ruling has yet to be set.