Register My Land
By LARRY DABLEMONT
I have to begin this week’s column by saying that we have had to cancel the outdoorsman’s swap meet to be held in Bolivar this coming Saturday because of the coronavirus panicdemic. But I do intend to have it sometime later in the year, maybe May or June.
I send this column to lots of newspapers and therefore get quite a few letters from readers. Most of them a few months ago were about the feral hog problem. Now I am getting letters from landowners who are really upset about new requirements the Missouri Department of Conservation has instigated, making necessary to register your land with them before you can get free landowner tags to hunt deer and turkey on your own land. The news media is really avoiding discussing this, and there is much I have learned about it that I cannot write about because most newspapers can’t print it. But sources I have out of the Jefferson City MDC offices, people who provided that page on how the department was using the telecheck system in questionable enforcement packages a couple of years ago, have weighed in on this.
Here is what I was told… first of all; making rural people upset is of little worry to the MDC because city supporters and suburbanites are the people they are most concerned about. That’s where the votes are, in case the 1/8 percent sales tax is ever in question.
Secondly, years ago the MDC wanted to eliminate free landowner permits to anyone owning less than 80 acres. The outcry was tremendous. I spoke at landowner meetings around the state that year helping to organize opposition to it. In Cuba, Houston, Nevada, Bolivar, Buffalo, Salem, Gainesville and other small towns, I spoke to crowds of 60 to 200 people about forming a Common Sense Coalition to try to do something about the way the MDC was beginning to change all the rules to increase revenue. More than 300 people packed an auditorium in Mt. Grove to angrily state they wouldn’t put up with it. In the face of that, the MDC backed down. But not for long. Plans were just delayed.
My source says this…. The powers that be feel they need more deer and turkey tag revenue, so they are going to get to that 80 acres mark they wanted by stages. In a couple of years they will require that landowners own 40 acres or more to get the free tags, then in 2024 or 2025 they will step it up to the 80-acre limit they wanted years ago. He said that there is nothing anyone can do to keep this from happening, and through something he calls ‘political autonomy’ provided to the MDC when the 1/8 cent tax was passed decades ago, the Missouri Legislature cannot change what the MDC is doing.
If I understood him correctly, registering your land with the MDC makes it easier for enforcement personnel to enter your land, and though they cannot come into your home, they can be there to casually look into barns and sheds if your land is registered with them. There is much gray area with what the registration involves that no landowners understand.
Several letters I have received from hunters say that if they cannot get the free landowners permits because they refused to register their land, they will hunt without it, and never buy another permit of any kind. I myself have never willingly broke any law, but I am NOT registering my land, and I WILL hunt wild turkey this spring on my own place as I have always done. I think this is a poorly-thought-out idea they have come up with and I think it will someday be repealed if it does not provide more revenue, and continues to turn landowners and country people against the MDC. Their feral hog policies have already turned a log of rural people against them. Their traps set for hogs kill deer and other wildlife, and photos circulating that show suffering injured deer in those traps do them no good whatsoever. And truthfully, they cannot much change the feral hog problem with what they are doing. It will thin the numbers, but they will come back, and they will never keep landowners from shooting hogs on their land when they can.
I have a new website now where I can talk more about what is going on in the Department of Conservation, and if you would like to see some of those dying deer in hog traps, go to that website, larrydablemont.com I will also print there many of the letters outdoor and country people cannot get printed in state newspapers. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s anybody’s guess how this author so consistently perceives the most fiendish motives and outlandish plots by the MDC, but sometimes someone just has to speak up. I imagine the reason so many papers hesitate to print his stuff is they get fatigued by the tone and lack of substance – and unnamed sources for all of his bizarre theories.
I’ve been watching MDC close enough and long enough to know that there is no “we must raise tag revenue!” culture in the MDC.
Yes, 12 years ago the MDC proposed raising the minimum from 5 to 80 acres for landowner permits. That was so overwhelmingly opposed it was immediately withdrawn. But despite how arbitrary and arguably absurd the 80-acre proposal was, 5 acres is equally absurd. In America wildlife belongs to the people, not the landowner. The justification for free landowner permits is the value their habitat provides for the public wildlife resource that uses it. 5 acres was just too small for that justification. MDC sought public input ahead of time, and the decision to shift from 5 to 20 acres was made with a great deal of public input and very little opposition. In fact, the opposition led the Commission to amend their proposal to allow continued free trapping, fishing, and hunting everything that doesn’t need a tag for those with 5 acres and above. Any number is arbitrary. To say that 20 is evil and 5 is good is just silly. The MDC made their case and the public agreed.
This notion that there is some nefarious plan to continue to slowly increase it to 80 acres is pure tin-foil hat stuff. Just look at the numbers. All Resident permit sales account for about 17% of MDC revenue. Less than half of those are Deer or turkey tags. Let’s be generous and call that 8%, less than a tenth. Then let’s guess how many landowner tags were issued to people with 5-19 acres – people who now have to buy a tag. In the overall picture of MDC revenue, it is certainly witheringly small. So he’d have us believe “they” are so consumed with a tiny blip in revenue that they would launch a decade+ long conspiracy to secretly raise the acreage requirement. That the decision-makers, the Commissioners, who VOLUNTEERED their services 6 years, did so just to get a chance to roll around in all that money. Absurd. His “source” must be one of the voices in his head.
There used to be a paper-based land registry. But it was such a hassle fo both the MDC and the landowners that the MDC dropped it and went with the honor system. But there are so many people without honor that more than a third of landowner tags were acquired fraudulently. That was stealing right out of the public wallet. MDC was responsible to react. An electronic system makes it much simpler for both MDC and landowners alike. I registered mine in a few minutes.
The land registry changes nothing regarding the options a conservation agent has in the performance of their enforcement duties. Also, the registry is completely voluntary. Anyone who prefers not to register is as welcome as any other citizen to buy their tags over the counter.
The legitimacy of this publication has been utterly undermined by your publishing of this rubbish. The author is spreading unsubstantiated rumors in an attempt to whip landowners into a frenzy. The truth is that over 30% of the landowner permits that were issued by MDC were being abused. And the landowners do not own the wildlife – the People of the state do. That is one of the primary tenets of the North American model of wildlife conservation. There is no excuse for you allowing this ignorance to be printed. Please take responsibility and end your support of Mr. Dablemont’s propaganda.