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Boone and Crockett Club: Wild, not Domestic

The Boone and Crockett Club today applauded a recent Missouri Supreme Court and their decision that captive deer and elk are to fall under the regulatory authority of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). The decision overturns an earlier lower court decision in 2015 that blocked the MDC attempt to regulate the transport of captive deer and elk into Missouri.

“The MDC originally put the regulations in place as a means of keeping wild Missouri deer and elk safe from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD),” said Boone and Crockett Club President Ben Hollingsworth Jr. “It was the right decision then and this is the right decision now.”

The 2015 decision was based on a lawsuit filed by shooting preserves that claimed their ability to replenish their stock was critical to their business and the lower court ruled in their favor. At the time the Missouri Department of Agriculture oversaw these types of operations as elk were then classified as livestock. By unanimous decision, the state’s Supreme Court last week handed down the opinion that even if animals are confined or born in captivity, if that animal is wild by nature, it is considered wildlife and under the purview of the MDC.

The first confirmed case of CWD in Missouri was a captive white-tailed deer in 2010. The first wild deer confirmed with CWD was in 2012. This always-fatal disease that affects deer and elk has now been detected in captive and wild populations in 24 states and three Canadian provinces. Its spread to new locations is being added by the transport of captive deer and elk. Attempts to eradicate the disease have failed, and efforts to control its spread through herd reduction, hunter surveillance and other methods have had limited success.

“CWD is a serious threat and this is a pivotal ruling,” Hollingsworth Jr. explained. “It’s pretty clear what has been happening. The captive shooting industry has been systematically trying to reclassify what is considered wild and calling it domestic in order to avoid stricter regulations so they can more freely move deer and elk between their facilities. Claims that CWD is being blown out of proportion fits a narrative to protect their business. It should be up to our wildlife professionals to tell us what needs to be done about CWD, and not private interests.”

About the Boone and Crockett Club
Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club is the oldest conservation organization in North America and helped to establish the principles of wildlife and habitat conservation, hunter ethics, as well as many of the institutions, expert agencies, science and funding mechanisms for conservation. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. For details, visit