Excerpt from Executive Director’s Address, delivered by Brandon Butler at the
Conservation Federation of Missouri’s 81st Annual Convention, March 2017.

One of the big issues of our time is Chronic Wasting disease. And sadly, our legislature has turned its back on the science of this devastating disease. MDC biologists have presented all the facts, supported by leading researchers across the country, to prove the spread of CWD is directly impacted by the movement of captive cervids.

Yet, certain legislators are working right now to make the process of moving cervids into our state easier.  They are looking for ways to laws to bolster and grow the privatized wildlife industry. They ignore science, otherwise, there is no question they would close our state’s borders to the importation of cervids tomorrow, just as Texas, Florida and over 20 other states have done. Science simply doesn’t compute with elected officials the way campaign contributions do.

So, if our politicians are committed to failing us, to failing the white-tailed deer, our state’s most sought after wildlife species, then we will take matters into our own hands. A new group of dedicated conservationists, Missouri Hunters for Fair Chase, is committed to passing an initiative petition that bans the sale of canned hunts.

Some are saying CFM shouldn’t support this because it may upset the legislature. Well I’m pretty sure the legislature was upset in 1935 when the people decided to form a new state agency free from politics and political favor.

And I’m pretty sure the legislature was upset again in 1976 when the people voted to send tax dollars free from political control to that agency. But you know what, upsetting the legislature was worth it then and it’s worth it now.

The brave visionaries of those initiatives, including some of you in this room created change that has led our state to the top of the conservation mountain.

The word BEST is thrown around a lot, and it is hard to define, but there’s no argument over how incredible our natural resources are in Missouri. We are truly blessed.

So when our politicians fail us we have to step up and be the change we seek. History tells us we can do it, and today, if we hope to have a wild deer herd for our grandchildren to hunt 50 years from now, we must stop the privatization of deer and the transportation of them, and their potential diseases into our state.

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