State Rep. Morgan talks deer, turkey tagging – The Clarion-Ledger – Jackson Clarion Ledger

A bill calling for required tagging and harvest reporting of deer and turkeys has been introduced in the Mississippi House of Representatives. Rep. Ken Morgan (R-Morgantown), who authored House Bill 1028, offered thoughts on the bill.

One of the most common arguments against tagging deer and turkeys is that too many hunters will not tag or report their harvests. Comments on social media indicate some feel conservation officer numbers are too low to enforce bag limits, making tagging ineffective. Morgan feels differently.

The bill, if passed, would make non-compliance a Class II violation. Hunters who violate any part of the tagging and reporting program would face fines of no less than $100 and no more than $500 for a first offense. Each offense after would bring fines of no less then $500 and no more than $1,000.

“The cost of violating this particular law could be an aversion,” Morgan said. “The people who violate the law, if they get caught and face a stiff fine, you might convert some of them.

“Is it perfect? No. I don’t know of any laws that are. It comes down to people making decisions and you can’t legislate decisions.”

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The bill also directs where the money from tagging and harvest reporting fines will go. Under HB 1028, administrative fees will go to the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

“Think of it being like this,” Morgan said. “It gives MDWFP officers more of an incentive to do their jobs knowing that money comes back to them.”

Even so, Morgan said fines and enforcement don’t affect most hunters.

“Well, number one, you’re probably going to have your hunters who are going to abide by the bag limits anyway,” Morgan said. “The majority of hunters are ethical.”

Another aspect of the bill is the effective date. Wildlife bills typically take effect at the beginning of the next fiscal year. HB 1028 would take effect July 1, 2018.

“That’s going to give them (MDWFP) ample time to get this thing on track,” Morgan said. “That will give them time to get all the bumps and bruises out of it.”

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Morgan also noted there have been concerns over how hunters who are exempt from the requirement of have a hunting license, such as those under 16 and over 65 years of age, will be handled. Morgan said a system like Alabama’s where exempt hunters can get an identification number could be used.

“I talked to some of the people at Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and they said they had all that ironed out,” Morgan said. “It’s like me; I’m going over 65 and I don’t have to buy a license, but that will give an avenue to get tags.”

And as he stated in an earlier interview, there will not be a fee for tags.

“A lot of people were worried about the cost,” Morgan said. “There won’t be any cost.”

Contact Brian Broom at 601-961-7225 or bbroom@gannett.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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