Monthly Updates from the World of Hunting and Conservation

Hunting and Conservation News

MDWFP to Host CWD Public Meetings

JACKSON – The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) will host public meetings to discuss proposed changes for the 2019 – 2020 deer hunting season in response to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The meetings will be held at 6 p.m. at the following locations:

May 7

Forrest County Mississippi State University Extension Office
952 Sullivan Drive
Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Presentations by MDWFP staff will be on the status of CWD and proposed regulation changes for next hunting season. Biologists and law enforcement officials will be available to answer questions.

For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease, or to report a sick animal, visit


Springtime Means Snakes are More Active

April in Mississippi means spring is in the air. The birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and snakes are becoming more active. So, if you are in the outdoors your chances of running into a snake have significantly increased because of snakes changing habitats from one season to another.  

Snakes changing habitats

During the winter months, snakes go through a long period of inactivity because of their cold-blooded nature. When snakes are inactive, it is because physical activity correlates to body temperature. Cold weather means less activity. While they are inactive, snakes will seek out dens, underground burrows, and sometimes they will even get into buildings until seasons change.

When spring finally arrives, often, you will find snakes basking in sunny areas. They need their body temperature to rise so they can be more active for finding mates, producing offspring but, most importantly, they need the energy to search for food, because most of them have not eaten anything all winter.

People should be aware of this activity and pay close attention to their surroundings if they want to avoid a surprising encounter with a snake. People who hunt and fish in the outdoors may have a greater chance of having a “run in” with a snake since they are more likely to visit prime snake habitat. Turkey hunters, in particular, should check thoroughly around their area before settling next to a tree stump or pile of brush before attempting to call a turkey. 

Suggestions for avoiding snake bites

Although snake bites are quite rare, leaving snakes alone and allowing them to go on their way is the best way to keep both you and the snake safe. Most snakebites occur when people try to move, kill or harass them. Mississippi is home to more than 50 species of snakes, but only six species are venomous. If you do not have a lot of experience with snakes, it is not always easy to distinguish venomous snakes from nonvenomous. Glaring distinguishing features such as eye shape or heat-sensitive pits are not easily recognizable from a distance. If you are close enough to see those variations you are probably too close to the snake. 

Consider the following to reduce your risk of being bitten.

  • When you are in areas where there may be snakes, wear long pants and/or shoes that protect your ankles.

  • Always look carefully where you are walking or placing your hands.

  • Always use a flashlight for activities after dark such as gathering firewood.

  • Choose a campsite that is away from woodpiles, cave entrances, swampy areas, or thick underbrush.

  • Use care when moving boats left on shore for several hours.

  • If you see a snake, carefully step away from it. Never attempt to capture or kill snakes.

  • Treat “dead” snakes as you would live snakes.

  • If you are attempting to identify a snake, make sure you are not within its striking distance, which is usually 2/3 of the snake’s body length.

  • Bring a companion when traveling in areas where there may be snakes.

  • Remember that venomous snakes can climb trees, can bite underwater, and may enter saltwater.

For more information on venomous snakes in Mississippi in visit

News from SCI Headquarters

Flawed ‘Big 6’ Bill Passes Connecticut Assembly Committee

Legislators in the Connecticut Assembly—members of a joint committee—have approved Senate Bill 20 to ban the import, sale or even possession of African elephants, lions, leopards, black/white rhinos and giraffes.  The bill was introduced earlier this year by Senator Bob Duff (D), the majority leader in the Connecticut Senate.

The Joint Committee on Judiciary passed the bill April 22 by a vote of 31 to 5, with four members absent or not voting.  The bill is likely headed for consideration by another legislative committee. 

It is unlikely the bill’s drafters consulted with African wildlife managers or with United State Fish & Wildlife Service officials before introducing SB 20 because it will do nothing to protect wildlife and will only prohibit activity that conservation experts and biologists across Africa use as a tool for species recovery.

SB 20 ignores the benefits that American hunters, including many from Connecticut, bring to African wildlife.  At least two of the species targeted in SB 20 owe their recovery to hunting.   

In Africa in 1895, there were fewer than 100 white rhinos.  Today, according to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to hunting programs, there are an estimated 20,000 white rhinos. 

Sustainable, regulated hunting programs are responsible for increasing the number of black rhinos from approximately 1,000 in the 1890s to more than 3,500 today.  The IUCN reports that importation restrictions on species targeted by SB 20 such as the African elephant, black rhino, white rhino and African lion "could likely cause serious declines of populations."  Nevertheless, the drafters of SB 20 aim to impose obstacles that are likely to undermine the conservation of these species.

Violations of the proposal would be considered a felony and subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to two years.  Sadly, Connecticut lawmakers are advancing solutions detrimental to African wildlife species and punishing law-abiding hunters in the process.


SCI President Babaz Responds To Anti-Hunting, Anti-Science Bill Introduced In U.S. House Of Representatives

Safari Club International President Paul Babaz today issued a statement that points out the lunacy of a bill that has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives that, if passed into law, would harm the very wildlife it purports to want to help – all in the name of vilifying hunters and hunting. President Babaz’ statement notes:

“As expected, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has reintroduced an unserious wildlife bill designed to restrict importations from Africa in the highly mistaken belief that Washington, D.C. politicians and bureaucrats know best how to manage wildlife in range countries. The truth of the matter is they do not. It is African range countries that best know how to manage their wildlife populations.

“Rep. Grijalva’s legislation will no more protect wildlife in Africa than pigs will fly. In fact, targeting hunting or hunters will have the opposite effect and will lead to more species loss and more poaching. Sadly, this bill specifically targets the importation of species that have seen the greatest benefit from well-regulated hunting programs.

“Regulated trophy hunting helps wildlife and local economies, while attacks on hunting result in harm to the very animals that we all want to save. The evidence of this is clear and it is why many African and
Asian countries use hunting to conserve wildlife and some African countries are considering lifting their restrictions on hunting.

“Safari Club International and other wildlife conservation groups will not back down. SCI strongly opposes Rep. Grijalva’s blatant attack. Hunters are standing tall and are prepared to defend the basics of wildlife conservation science. We look ahead with great eagerness for any opportunity to defend our hunting heritage.

“It is interesting to note that support for Grijalva’s bill by his House colleagues has plummeted by half every time it has been introduced. Those willing to examine facts know what this bill is: a clueless, anti-science hack bill written to raise money from fringe, anti-hunting radicals.”

Senate Confirms Interior Secretary David Bernhardt

Following a full Senate vote, David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump’s selection for Interior Secretary, was confirmed today.

In a largely party line vote of 56 to 41, the Senate confirmation is the culmination of the Feb. 4 Presidential nomination.

“Safari Club International is pleased to congratulate Secretary Bernhardt on his Senate confirmation,” said SCI President Paul Babaz. “We have had the privilege of getting to know the Secretary through his work at the Interior Department and strongly support his continued efforts to open up America’s public lands to the sportsmen and women who love the outdoors.”

“I personally look forward to working with Secretary Bernhardt in my role as a member of the International Wildlife Conservation Council. SCI wishes him the best of luck and offers him our support as he takes the helm at the Interior Department,” Babaz concluded.

Bernhardt’s nomination garnered support from many sportsmen’s groups and key Congressional leaders who have worked with him throughout his career.

Upon learning of his nomination earlier this year, Representative Rob Bishop of Utah, the ranking GOP member of the House Natural Resources Committee said, "It's a brilliant move. No one is more experienced, and I look forward to working with him."

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