Court Ruling Strikes Down Regulatory Over-Reach on CWD in Missouri, Upholds Private Property Rights

Ayr, NE-On Friday, the American Cervid Alliance applauded a decision handed down from Osage County, Missouri Associate Court Judge Robert Schollmeyer ruling against the Missouri Department of Conservation’s overreaching attempt to ban the importation of deer into the state by deer farmers.

The regulations were advanced under the guise of protecting the state from Chronic Wasting Disease, a deer and elk disease, but based on the evidence presented the court ruled the agency’s claims didn’t hold water and that deer farmers are protected under the Missouri Constitution.

The court imposed an injunction against a ban on importation of deer and also burdensome changes to the fencing standards on private deer facilities. The court found that MDC’s regulations didn’t stand up to legal scrutiny, in part since deer farms already face regulation from the Missouri and U.S. Departments of Agriculture. The court noted that MDC’s “own experts acknowledged that the USDA program is based on good science, and that those who administer it in Missouri are good scientists.”

The court also heard testimony from MDC’s own witnesses that blew apart any rational justification for these regulations and exposed double standards:

•An MDC expert witness “admitted that free-ranging cervids pose a greater risk of spreading CWD-causing prions than enclosed cervids” on deer farms.
•MDC is hypocritical in its standards for bringing animals into the state. “While asserting that the [USDA’s] herd-certification program for CWD is not a sufficient insurance against importation of CWD-positive animals, MDC nonetheless relies on a similar certification program to justify its own importation of elk from the State of Kentucky,” the court wrote.
•The new fencing standards “are not based on documentation of any existing problems” but instead based on “anecdotal, second-hand reports.”
•CWD can be spread by the movement of hunter-harvested carcasses, “yet MDC has not imposed any restrictions on movement of carcasses within the state of Missouri.”
•Deer on farms “are not ‘game… [or] wildlife resources of the state’ but are privately owned” and farmers are “engaged in ‘farming and ranching’ practices protected by the Missouri Constitution.”

“This is a win for private property rights and rural businesses, and a blow to draconian government policy that is not science-based,” said Charly Seale, American Cervid Alliance spokesman. “The Missouri Department of Conservation should stop wasting taxpayer money on a political crusade attacking family businesses and spend more time fighting CWD in free-ranging deer.”