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.
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.
As regular U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance readers know, on April 17th, the House of Representatives passed the most important fishing and hunting bill in 15 years – HR 4089, The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act – by a lopsided 274 to 146 vote. A bipartisan majority of 235 Republicans and 39 Democrats voted yes. The bill has two fundamental features: (1) establishing that 700 million acres of federal public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service are open to fishing, hunting, and recreational, as a matter of law, until or unless closed for good specific reasons and (2) confirming recent EPA decisions that the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act does not allow the agency to regulate lead in fishing gear or ammunition. The overwhelming support from America’s real conservationists, the angling and hunting community, demonstrates this is good public policy and ought to be non-controversial.
But nothing in Washington, D.C. ever is. So it’s little surprise that the usual suspects are screaming about the bill and peddling disinformation about what it does. We’re told that this fishing and hunting bill is really about opening lands to oil and gas development or forcing the National Park Service to allow hunting on the National Mall. Aside from the fact that these specious claims are utter nonsense, what prompts this over-the-top reaction to a fishing and hunting bill?
We know the answer for the animal rights radicals like HSUS, Peta and the Animal Legal Defense League etc. They simply oppose any and all hunting. We’re frankly thrilled to see them foaming at the mouth in opposition – it confirms the bill does indeed protect fishing and hunting on our federal public lands.