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MO House votes to allow dogs to find wounded deer

By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri House on Monday voted to allow hunters to track wounded deer with a dog on a leash. Supporters say it will save time by making it easier for hunters to find deer they have shot.

But some critics say the move only creates more loopholes because the state already has a policy that allows dogs to be used to find mortally wounded deer if all other means have been exhausted.

Rep. Terry Young (D-Kansas City) says her legislation brings Missouri in line with several neighboring states that already allow people to use dogs to track wounded deer.

It's currently illegal to use dogs to hunt deer in Missouri.

But state Department of Conservation policy also already allows its agents to authorize the use of leashed dogs to track mortally wounded deer, provided the hunter has exhausted other reasonable means of finding the animal.

The deer tracking legislation needs another House vote to move to the Senate.

Some Democrats said Young's legislation is not necessary and, instead of clarifying state policy, raises more questions. For example, the bill doesn't specify if a dog's owner must be holding the leash, said Rep. Ray Salva (D-Sugar Creek).

"This bill has more holes in it than Swiss cheese," Salva said.

The bulk of the debate, however, focused on whether to create an eight-member advisory board for the Conservation Department filled with gubernatorial appointees. The department already is overseen by a four-person commission appointed by the governor.

In recent years, lawmakers have become increasingly skeptical about the department's governing commission's autonomy, especially how it has spent its money. Much of the Conservation Department's budget comes from a dedicated sales tax, so lawmakers cannot direct the department on how to spend it.

Rep. John Quinn said it seems the department does not want to listen to anyone. "They have some meetings, but I'm not sure how much they listen to the input," said Quinn (R-Chillicothe).

Critics said the newly proposed panel would be stacked with hunters and farmers and would just create another layer of bureaucracy.

An amendment that would have created the advisory panel was defeated 85-66. The overall bill was approved by voice vote, and it requires another vote before moving to the Senate.

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