Missouri Deer Farmers Serve Lawsuit to Missouri Department of Conservation
December 4, 2014
The following update is provided by the Missouri Deer Association:
As most of you now know, the Missouri Department of Conservation (“MDC”) has recently distributed to all deer breeders and trophy preserve operators a packet containing the newly proposed rules and regulations affecting our industry. These new rules and regulations are slated to take effect on January 30, 2015. If implemented, the effect of these overreaching new rules and regulations will have a dramatic, devastating and lasting effect on our industry. This will drive out many existing breeders and hunting ranch operators and have a severe chilling effect thereby preventing new cervid related industries from coming into the state.
On October 17, 2014, MDC approved this series of sweeping and unauthorized regulations that reach far beyond the agency’s Constitutional and statutory authority by attempting to regulate privately owned deer. The regulations also improperly burden the fundamental right to farming and ranching in Missouri, and discriminate against interstate commerce by closing the borders and completely banning the importation into Missouri of privately owned white-tail deer and other related cervids.
A select group of members of the Missouri Deer Association, in an effort to protect the interests of its members and the cervid industry in the State of Missouri, have initiated a lawsuit filed against the MDC and the individual conservation commissioners (i.e. James T. Blair, IV, David W. Murphy, Marilynn J. Bradford and Don C. Bedell) in their official capacities. The lawsuit was filed on November 20, 2014 and MDC and the commissioners have now been served with the suit. To be clear, Missouri Deer Association is not a plaintiff in this suit as the “association” legally is not directly damaged by the new rules and/or acts of MDC. The plaintiffs are individual members, both breeders and hunting preserve owners/operators who represent a broad cross-section of our membership.
This lawsuit seeks an order temporarily and permanently enjoining MDC and the commissioners from enforcing their proposed regulations, as well as a judgment declaring that MDC’s authority over “wildlife resources of the state” does not encompass privately owned cervids, and that the proposed regulations are invalid under the U.S. Constitution, Missouri Constitution and Missouri statutes.
In other words, if our order is granted, the court’s ruling will prevent the new regulations from going into effect while we attempt to (1) have the regulations declared unconstitutional, and (2) have privately owned cervids removed from the control of MDC by declaring that MDC has no authority over them.
The Plan Going Forward
Now that the lawsuit has been filed we are now awaiting a formal response or “answer” from MDC and the individual commissioners. We are expecting that to take place and for the court to schedule a hearing on our request for temporary and/or permanent injunctions within the next thirty to forty-five days. Soon the discovery phase of the case will begin where we will be allowed to request documentation and evidence from MDC. From there we can expect many motions and hearings along the way toward a final result. Regardless of the result at the end of the suit we can likely expect the losing party to appeal the decision. This appeal will spark another year to year in a half of proceedings. Each issue of this newsletter will include a summary of events and the current state of the lawsuit.
As a member of the board of directors of the Missouri Deer Breeders association and an attorney, I have gladly taken on the role to act as our representative with the attorneys working on our behalf so that I can continue to keep the membership informed as to the status of the lawsuit. Feel free to contact me via email with any questions or concerns you may have. I will try my best to keep everyone informed and answer your questions in a timely fashion. I can be contacted at Jacques.firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Jacques serves as Director of Operations at Winter Quarter Wildlife Ranch, LLC, located in Ethel, Missouri, where he assists his in-laws, Travis and Kathy Broadway, in the breeding and hunting operations at the ranch. Jacques, along with his wife Melanie and son Mason, also operate Wild Country Safari Park, LLC (a drive through zoo/safari park) located in North Louisiana, where they actively breed over 25 exotic species housed at the safari park. Jacques is also a licensed attorney in the State of Louisiana who has practiced for over 17 years in the area of business litigation.