Sen. Dave Schatz’s Column for April 13

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The Importance of Conservation

Conservation Federation Executive Director Brandon Butler presents the Legislator of the Year award to Sen. Dave Schatz.

This week, I was honored to be award the Legislator of the Year award from the Conservation Federation of Missouri. It’s no secret that I am an avid sportsmen and conservationist. Hunting and fishing are family traditions and a longstanding part of life in Missouri. I often mark the passage of time by what game is in season – winter is for gigging, spring is for trout and turkeys, fall is for deer and turkey. When I get a chance, I also travel to hunt in Colorado and fish in Alaska.

This year, I sponsored legislation to increase fines for poaching after consulting with the Conservation Department. Some of Missouri’s poaching statutes have not been updated in decades and the fine amounts are far lower than our neighboring states. In the past I have always supported our state’s conservation efforts and I am heartened every time I hear from constituents who share my passion for the outdoors.

Senate Bill 241 would impose a fine to any person in the state who is found guilty of chasing, pursuing, taking, transporting, killing, processing, or disposing of a turkey, white-tailed deer, black bear, or elk illegally.  The collections of fines or restitution collected would then be transferred to the State School Moneys Fund and distributed to public schools.

Missouri is a national and worldwide leader in conservation. Our state long ago set aside a dedicated sales tax for conservation and this has allowed our Conservation Department to plan years in advance and effectively manage our wildlife and natural resources. The Conservation Federation is the citizen-led organization that helped fight for that sales tax in the first place and their leadership in conservation is the reason that Missouri is the standard for wildlife management in the United States.

The great thing about Missouri’s outdoor tradition and the citizen-led organizations like the Conservation Federation that foster the tradition is that it is available to all citizens in the state. Wherever I go, rural or urban, I meet other hunting, fishing, and conservation enthusiasts and I plan to play my part as both a private citizen and public official in preserving that tradition.

Thank you for reading this weekly column. Please contact my office at (573) 751-3678 if you have any questions.