As expected, the 2021 session of the Mississippi Legislature was quiet regarding hunting- and fishing-related bills. Of the more than 20 bills combined presented in the House and Senate committees on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, only two remain alive — one in each chamber.
Both bills received the “strike-all” label, meaning that the second chamber rewrote the entire language passed by the originating chamber and then approved the bill. Those bills now must return to the chamber of origin for consideration.
- The House approved Senate Bill 2035, which would allow the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to do two things: allow and regulate the use of air guns, air bows and pre-charged pneumatic weapons it deems necessary and proper AND allow the MDWFP to create special seasons for deer harvest to collect samples for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing, including both inside and outside existing seasons.
If inside an already existing season, deer can be taken with weapons legal for that season. If outside any season, then the Wildlife Commission could regulate weaponry. The House voted 113-7, with two voting present, to approve the amended bill.
Air guns shall be legal for hunting small game during the seasons for hunting small game. Air bows and pre-charged pneumatic weapons shall be lawful for hunting large game, except gamebirds, turkeys and migratory waterfowl. Air bows and pre-charged pneumatic weapons may be used during any open season on deer with primitive weapons after Nov. 30, on private lands only.
- The Senate approved House Bill 382 regarding CWD testing inside enclosures (high-fence deer pens), after rewriting a clause to give the MDWFP the power to enter such an enclosure and use the best collection methods available to obtain tissue samples for testing where CWD has been diagnosed within five miles of the enclosure. The Senate voted 52-0 to approve the amended bill.
Despite the overwhelming votes, both measures were immediately held on motions to reconsider, leaving their final passage in doubt. If either or both bills are cleared of the reconsider motions, they would still face obstacles to passage. The originating chamber must vote to approve the amended versions. A positive vote would send the bill as written to the governor for his signature and approval, but a negative vote would lead to a conference committee to attempt a compromise version that both chambers would need to consider.
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