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Opinion: Missouri Department of Conservation’s latest proposal is government gone wild


As a Conservative state representative, I usually find myself baffled by bureaucracy. It is astounding how often these unelected bureaucrats and administrators implement rules with the force of law that can greatly affect Missourians. These departments have great latitude, too much if you ask me, in creating rule changes over night. Well, once again, the Missouri Department of Conservation is proposing a rule change which would greatly harm landowners and Missouri families across the state, and we must mobilize support to oppose their proposed rule change.

State Rep. Hannah Kelly (PROVIDED)

In May of this year, MDC announced they were accepting public comments on a litany of proposed rule changes. One of the rule changes adjusts acreage requirements for MDC’s definition of resident landowners from a minimum of 5 to instead a minimum of 20 acres and I hope you’ll let me explain why this concerns me. As it stands, Missourians who own 5 acres or more of land are able to hunt and kill deer on their property without having to buy a permit. This rule helps small landowners and small-time farmers protect their crops and property from herds of deer. Under the new rule change, however, people who own between 5-20 acres of land will have to pay to kill deer on their own property. This is an affront to hardworking people in my district, and across Missouri, who will simply see it as a form of backdoor taxation for being a responsible property owner.

This is a clear example of unelected bureaucrats trying to create rules that harm Missouri families. As anyone from a rural area can tell you, deer act more like a pest animal than anything. They cause damage to personal vehicles and property, while also trampling and destroying crops. In addition, there are many families in my district that have a freezer full of meat to feed their family through the winter by harvesting a deer during season. Addressing the issue of hunger in one’s family should not be met with backdoor taxation from the government either. Property owners across the state have good reason to want to be responsible landowners and/or provide food for their families without having to pay extra for it because our government bureaucracy is reaching into their back pocket. The proposed rule change would only make life harder for working families.

I support property rights and the freedom to manage your land as you see fit. I believe that if you own a stretch of land, you should be able to kill any pests or feed your family without the government barging down your door demanding you pay them for the pleasure. For us out in the fields and in the rural areas, we know that deer can prove to be some of the biggest pests around and/or a fantastic way to make sure you provide well for your family dinner table.

MDC is intruding on the rights of landowners by radically changing the definition of resident landowners. This is just a shakedown so government can demand more money from citizens. Missourians are under enough pressure without having to make the choice between paying their hard-earned money just to harvest deer on the land they own and pay taxes on already, or enduring hardship because they cannot afford the permits.

Missourians across the state need to stand up and oppose this out of control bureaucracy and demand that the Department of Conservation back-off. This includes giving them comment at the link and to comment on landowner acreage requirements, refer to “3 CSR 10-20.805 Definitions”. MDC needs to know that this is bad policy and infringes on landowner rights. The people of the 141st District that I represent, and all Missourians for that matter, deserve more than me staying quiet on this issue. We must work together to hold our bureaucracy accountable. I trust you will join me in this fight for what’s right for the people and let your voice be heard.