Deer enclosure legislation sent to governor

By MIke McDaniel/WLBT-TV

JACKSON — Legislation allowing nonnative animals to be confined inside Mississippi land enclosures is one step away from again being allowed.

Mostly used for hunting purposes, the enclosures can be anywhere from 300 to 640 acres including water.

Not all lawmakers agree with the bill, however.

Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, voted against House Bill 758 when it was passed by the Senate this week.

Gollott said the problem is white tail deer too often being enclosed as well. Since white tail deer are native animals, it’s against the law for them to be enclosed.

“They have those in those enclosures and the wildlife department is allowing that to go on and the wildlife department is in violation of the public trust doctrine,” said Gollott.

Gollott said there’s no mandate in the bill to have any white tail deer removed from enclosures. Because of it, he said the deer are being taken away from their rightful owners and those who can’t afford to pay high prices to hunt on enclosed land.

“All of those native deer in Mississippi belong to the people and the state of Mississippi and it shouldn’t be inside those enclosures,” said Gollott.

Rep. Ken Morgan, R-Morgantown, supports the bill and said he’s against having white tail deer inside enclosures as well but recognizes some of them are able to get under fences or in some cases find ways to jump over.

Morgan said for many people the enclosures are just like raising cattle.

“The whole point behind this is a lot of people raise red deer and a lot of people actually sell them for a meat process, just like we do beef,” said Morgan.

Currently state law prohibits anyone to sell a hunt inside an enclosure involving white tail deer, but if one happens to be shot, Morgan said he realizes it’s a way to camouflage the law.

“You were hunting for white tail deer but you paid for the hunt and that’s really just a back door way of getting around the process of selling a deer which is a violation of state law,” said Morgan.

The bill also raises the fine and penalty for anyone in violation of an enclosure.