JACKSON — Questions have arisen over the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks’ management of selected wild game in Mississippi (i.e., the waterfowl, turkey and deer management programs), according to the PEER Committee.
Also, some citizens have questioned the expanded use of privately owned pens for deer management and whether the use of such is consistent with state law.
To address these matters, the PEER Committee has reviewed the department’s stewardship of these three wildlife management programs to determine whether it has managed these programs to ensure that these resources are conserved for the benefit of all Mississippians.
PEER recommends “the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, working through the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, should develop a policy regarding deer enclosures that will bring the commission’s policies in conformity with state statutes and the public trust doctrine. Such policies should address the removal of white-tailed deer from enclosures that are not established for the specific purposes provided for in statute law. Any removal of deer should be in conformity with the best scientific advice and guidance available to the department through Mississippi State University or any other source deemed appropriate by the commission and department. In the event that any litigation is filed regarding the department’s authority to regulate enclosures of native white-tailed deer, the department should take no action until such litigation is ultimately resolved.
Because the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks manage wildlife for the benefit of the people of Mississippi, the commission should ensure that:
• it documents its basis for making policy decisions;
• its decisions are based on the best scientific information available; and,
• policy changes can be directly linked to a scientific basis for making such change.