SuperTalk Mississippi News

Wicker, Hyde-Smith applaud Senate passage of wildlife conservation bill

By Caleb Salers

Bipartisan legislation that will help conserve wildlife in Mississippi and other states has been unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate approved the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Reauthorization Act of 2024. The bill, co-sponsored by Mississippi Republicans Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, serves to combat emerging wildlife diseases like chronic wasting disease (CWD), livestock predation, and invasive species.

“This legislation builds on our previous conservation efforts. We must make sure future generations of hunters, fishers, and wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy the outdoors. America’s natural resources are worth preserving,” Wicker said. “The legislation also ensures the continuity of agriculture programs important to Mississippi’s farmers and cattlemen.”

The ACE Act would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, an interagency effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior to combat CWD. This portion of the legislation was pushed by hunting advocates.

“This well-balanced legislation is critical for the continuation of programs that influence wildlife habitat, hunting and fishing, and livestock production in Mississippi,” Hyde-Smith said. “I’m very pleased it passed with unanimous Senate support, which I hope bodes well for it eventually being enacted into law.”

A Black Vulture Livestock Protection Program allowing Fish and Wildlife Service personnel to issue permits to cattle producers to kill black vultures would also be reinstated. The pilot program could end in 2026 without formal congressional authorization.

The ACE Act, which is now available for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives, is endorsed by Ducks Unlimited, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the National Wildlife Federation, the American Sportfishing Association, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.