Efforts to fund turkey conservation dies in legislature

Published 9:51 am Monday, May 6, 2024

By Hunter Cloud

The Daily Leader

Mississippi legislators had an opportunity to fund the future of turkey conservation in Mississippi by passing a bill which would have required hunters to buy a turkey stamp. Neither the House nor Senate bill creating a wild turkey stamp survived conference after both chambers overwhelmingly passed the legislation. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks commissioners had asked the legislature to pass a turkey stamp bill at the request of the turkey program. Stamps would have generated funds to be allocated solely to wild turkey research, habitat improvement and tagging. 

The House version of the bill stated that lifetime license holders would be exempt from purchasing a wild turkey stamp, residents would be charged $10 for turkey stamps and non-residents would be charged $100 for turkey stamps. 

The Senate version would have charged non-residents $200 and not charge residents. Both measures died in conference and are done this session. 

Rep. Bill Kinkade, chairman of the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee, said the legislation was fine but politics ultimately got in the way. He said the Senate conferees agreed to the House bill conference report, signed it and he then went and passed the report in the House. 

It was after the fact when the Senate wanted to make the bill a Senate bill. Kinkade said he could not agree to it. 

“I have worked on this bill since September. I couldn’t change it, it is a House bill. They recommitted it and wanted to make it a Senate bill. We have to act with integrity,” Kinkade said. 

“A turkey stamp was something I worked hard on. Those boys in the senate are good boys. I don’t mind working with them but I need to know upfront. They tried to change it to a senate bill after the fact. If they had told me beforehand I would have said yes by all means. I can’t go back to the house and tell them we will make it a senate bill.” 

A sportsman, Kinkade was in attendance at the May commission meeting where Turkey Program Director Adam Butler recommended a state turkey stamp. Kinkade said he spoke with Butler about the bill. He felt it was needed to enhance Mississippi’s turkey population and the program. 

“We are trying to promote an opportunity for us to enhance our resources. We lead the southeast in turkeys. I wanted to enhance it and do everything we can,” Kinkade said. “Having a fund we can use to help that is what I wanted to try and do this session. Unfortunately politics got in the way. We will continue to work on it. I vow to that.” 

Sen. Neil Whaley has not answered requests for comments at press time.