Our Opinion: Veto removes threat to deer posed by inane bills

We would need to dig deep into the pile of legislation approved by Missouri lawmakers to find a proposal more inane than those reclassifying deer as “livestock.”

Gov. Jay Nixon commendably struck a blow for common sense on Wednesday when he vetoed these proposals.

We will watch to see if the lawmakers who promoted this nonsense attempt to override the vetoes, an override that could jeopardize the deer population and deer hunting in Missouri.

Some background may be helpful.

Management of Missouri’s deer population is directed by the Conservation Department, which also regulates hunting.

Missouri is home to a growing captive deer industry, which offers hunting within a fenced perimeter. The fledgling industry balked at Conservation regulations — notably a double-fence requirement — designed to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease, which is fatal to deer.

Claiming the rules would be costly and detrimental to the industry, they proposed reclassifying captive deer as “livestock” and transferring oversight from the Conservation to Agriculture departments.

We wrote in this forum on June 17: “Although fledgling industries deserve to be nurtured, they do not deserve to be exempted from the rules,” particularly when that exemption might jeopardize Missouri wildlife, as well as the economic contribution of traditional hunting.

Nixon cited, among the reasons for his vetoes, that the bills “clearly violate the Missouri Constitution.” If his vetoes are overridden, the courts likely will be asked to address that constitutional question.

We hope the question of whether captive deer are livestock never makes it to the courts. Frankly, we were astounded such a preposterous concept could pass both the House and Senate.

Nixon said: “Redefining deer as livestock to remove the regulatory role of the department (of Conservation) defies both its clear record of achievement as well as common sense. White-tailed deer are wildlife and also game animals — no matter if they’re roaming free, or enclosed in a fenced area.”

We concur.

Deer are not livestock. These bills are a travesty that threatens wildlife and insults Missourians, particularly hunters.

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