COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have shifted responsibility for regulating Missouri deer ranches to the Department of Agriculture instead of the Department of Conservation.
Nixon said legislation would have infringed on the constitutionally prescribed duties of the conservation agency to regulate wildlife and could have harmed the state's efforts to protect deer from disease.
"This destructive measure would violate our state constitution, would violate the will of the voters and undermine longstanding successful conservation practices," Nixon said while announcing the veto at a special meeting of the state Conservation Commission at a Columbia hotel.
About 150 conservation supporters applauded his rejection of the bill.
The legislation would have classified captive deer as livestock, similar to cattle, hogs and sheep. That would have subjected deer ranchers to agricultural rules, instead of wildlife regulations, and made them eligible for sales tax exemptions.
The measure was backed by the deer ranching industry and others who are opposed to tougher regulations being proposed by the Conservation Department. Last month, the agency endorsed a proposed rule change that would ban the importation of deer from other states and require double fencing for new permit holders.
The regulations are an effort to guard against the spread of chronic wasting disease.