A pair of bills proposed in the Legislature would restrict or ban some forms of dog hunting in Mississippi.
House Bill 973 would “prohibit using dogs for hunting deer.” It was introduced by District 76 Rep. Gregory Holloway, a Democrat, who represents Claiborne, Copiah and Hinds counties.
“It is unlawful to hunt or kill deer with dogs,” the bill says. Violators would be fined $2,000 to $5,000 and face five days in jail.
Sen. Bill 2485 would require permits and tracking collars for all hunting dogs on public or private lands statewide. It was introduced by District 19 Sen. Kevin Blackwell of DeSoto and Marshall counties and District 10 Sen. Neil S. Whaley of Marshall and Tate counties, both Republicans.
The Senate bill would use the permit currently required for dog-hunting in the Homochitto National Forest and expand it to all lands statewide. The proposed permits would be free and required from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. Violators would be fined $25 to $100.
“All hunters hunting with dogs or with the dog hunting group must have the permit on their person while hunting,” the bill says.
“Dogs must wear a functional tracking collar and be identified at all times with the permit number and the owner’s contact information.”
Longtime dog hunter Don Morgan, 84, of Summit said he believes such legislation stems from public opposition to hunting deer with dogs. “A lot of people don’t like dog hunting for deer,” he said.
Morgan said state law already enables landowners to prosecute hunters whose dogs stray onto their property.
“We’ve got a pretty good no-trespassing law passed in Mississippi. We don’t need any more bills,” he said.
Morgan said the Senate bill would unfairly penalize any kind of dog hunter — rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, deer, fox, coyote — on public or private land.
That would even include someone taking a squirrel dog to a patch of woods behind the house.
“I don’t like people telling me what I can do on our farm,” said Morgan, who has hunted with his wife Joan for years.
He said it’s unrealistic and costly to require all dog hunters to buy tracking collars, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Morgan noted people are suffering so much financially during the pandemic that the federal government is sending out stimulus checks.
“Yet here in Mississippi we’ve got a doggone bill that says if you want to dog hunt in the woods, you’ve got to have a tracking system,” he said.
Both bills have been referred to the respective Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committees for consideration.