Hunters and anglers are viewing with apprehension and concern President Obama’s nomination of Sally Jewell to be the new Secretary of the Interior. As the steward of hundreds of millions of acres of public lands – held by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – the Secretary plays a critical role in managing these lands including policies impacting access, hunting opportunities, and wildlife management. Jewell’s close association with interests hostile to hunters, hunting access, and traditional wildlife management has USSA watching her confirmation closely.
It’s common this time of year for political pundits to speculate how the new 113th Congress will impact the lives of everyday Americans. Sportsmen are no different. We also wonder how a newly constituted government made up of a confidently re-elected, lame duck President Obama, a Senate where Democrats increased their majority, and a House where Republicans held fast to their strong majority will make a difference to the future of hunting, fishing, trapping, recreational shooting and more.
The most important thing that the government can do for American sportsmen and women is nothing. Much like the Hippocratic Oath physicians takes upon becoming licensed to practice medicine – “Do No Harm” should be our first wish from the new Congress. However, an increasingly urban country – and urban-based politicians – demands that hunters and anglers emerge from our defensive bunkers, and try to put in place laws that will protect our precious heritage for generations to come.
There may still be light at the end of the tunnel for sportsmen who want to persuade Congress to pass legislation that protects hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal lands. Frustrated by an unending barrage of anti-hunting lawsuits aimed at closing the gates to sportsmen and women, the hunting community has united behind a series of provisions aimed at clarifying what once was thought to be a given: hunters, anglers and shooters (the most prominent supporters of wildlife conservation in America) belong on federal land where hunting, fishing and recreational shooting can take place.
The last 30 days have been chock full of key events that have a tremendous impact on the future of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting in America – events that are leading many sportsmen and women to draw conclusions about (or further cement their conclusions about) Democratic decision makers.
- In the nation’s capitol, Congress debated sportsmen’s access to public land, whether EPA could regulate ammunition and fishing tackle, whether recreational shooting should be permissible on national monument land where compatible, and last whether the United States should allow the importation of legally hunted trophies.
- In California, the Senate debated whether to ban hunting black bears and bobcats using hounds.
- In Ohio, lawmakers protested colleagues holding clay bird shooting events as political fundraisers in the wake of a school shooting that occurred in February 250 miles away from the proposed event.
When it comes to asserting the rights of animals, the end truly justifies the means for the animal rights lobby, and their minions in Congress and state legislatures across the country. This phenomenon has been on stark display in the United States House of Representatives and in the California Senate over the last 30 days:
Some of My Best Friends are Hunters
On April 17th, the U.S. House passed the most significant piece of pro-sportsmen legislation in 15 years, as HR 4089 was approved 274-189. Although the vote included 39 Democrats, a group of their left-leaning colleagues led the charge to gut the bill through a series of amendments. The most disgusting part of this maneuver was to see several of them profess their love and admiration for hunting and fishing prior to proposing amendments that would neuter the very hunting, fishing and shooting protections that HR 4089 provides.
Sportsmen and women are gearing up for a big presidential election this fall as the Republican primary battles wind down and Mitt Romney shifts his focus to taking on President Obama. Sportsmen will play a significant role in deciding who the next president is, as well as who will control Congress. In addition to being politically important, many of these states are also some of the biggest sportsmen’s states in the nation, meaning hunters, anglers and trappers will have a direct influence on the outcomes of these elections.