JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A court ruling has blocked a Missouri department from enforcing new regulations on private deer operations in the state.
The preliminary injunction issued this month in Gasconade County court keeps the Missouri Department of Conservation from enforcing new rules aimed at curbing the potential spread of chronic wasting disease until questions about the legality of the laws can be resolved, The Kansas City Star reported.
The new regulations, which include prohibiting the importation of captive deer and other similar animals into Missouri, had gone into effect earlier this year amid department efforts to deal with CWD, a fatal animal disease that some say could threaten Missouri’s free-range deer herd.
The major area of concern for CWD is in the northeast part of the state, where 11 captive deer and 10 free-range deer were initially found with CWD in 2010 and 2011. Since then, another 14 free-ranging deer have tested positive for the disease.
The court case was filed by several Missouri deer farmers, who contend the new regulations unfairly target them.
The court ruled there wasn’t enough proof the disease posed as serious a threat as Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife biologists claim.
“Without question, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm, up to and including the loss of business, should the regulations remain in effect during the upcoming hunting season,” the court said in a 33-page ruling. “By contrast, defendants cannot show an imminent threat to Missouri’s cervid population or other public interests that would justify the regulations remaining in effect while their constitutionality is finally resolved.”
Conservation department assistant director Tim Ripperger said the department was disappointed with the injunction in regards to managing the herd in the short run, but remained hopeful for a different outcome when the matter goes to trial, though no trial date has been set.
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