MISSOURI -- Many Oregon County residents have been concerned about the proposed changes the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has talked about for the future.
Worry no more.
The MDC has apparently changed its mind on some of the changes they proposed after hearing from residents across the state during its public comment period that ended Dec. 16.
Proposed changes would have increased permit fees on hunting, fishing and trapping. It also would have required Missouri residents who hunt on their own property to buy a hunting permit.
The MDC will continue with hunter education and age requirements for mentors. They have established the minimum age of 6-years for obtaining deer and turkey permits and simplifying youth permits and reducing the cost.
Public input, according to MDC officials, has again proven to be an essential component of regulation development.
MDC Commission Chairman, Chip McGeehan said, "We have a rich history of being citizen led and citizen driven. Citizen involvement and trust are essential parts of conservation success in Missouri and we thank the many Missourians who have shared their opinions on the proposed permit changes. We will continue to seek points of view from all of our stakeholders, listen and respond in ways that best protect our state's resources and serve all Missourians."
One of the major changes in the MDC proposals is the 80-acre resident landowner requirement that has been stopped. After the MDC Commission took into consideration the severe economic downturn affecting Missouri residents, and in response to public comments, the Commission decided to end advancement of the proposed recommendations to:
* An increase in the resident landowner acreage requirement for no-cost deer and turkey permits from five to 80 acres.
* Eliminate lessee privileges.
The MDC Commission also stopped proposed resident permit price increases. "Our economy is in much worse shape than it was when we first proposed the price increases," said MDC Director John Hoskins. "We are sensitive to the plight of our fellow Missourians during this unprecedented recession. The higher cost of living, increased unemployment and general economic uncertainty are affecting us all. We hope that by eliminating these price increases, we can help hunters, trappers and fishermen through these tough economic times.
The Commission also said they supported ending advancement to establish a new senior "forever" permit. With this action people over 65 will continue to hunt small game and fish free in Missouri with no permit required. Many Oregon County residents expressed confusion over the "forever" permit. MDC received many public comments on this issue.
Hoskins said the MDC Commission remains focused on the priority of growing hunter and angler numbers in Missouri. The Commission has said they will continue forward with the recommendations to simplify youth permits and slash the costs of deer, turkey and trout permits purchased for youth by 50 percent.