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“Protecting Access for Hunters & Anglers Act” Passes Committee



image courtesy NSSF

Public lands are for the public, not just the elite.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee for the bipartisan approval of the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, H.R. 615, introduced by U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.). This crucial legislation would ensure our nation’s number one resource of conservation funding remains in place and that hunters, recreational shooters and anglers throughout the nation can continue to enjoy America’s sporting heritage.

“This legislation is tremendously important to protect the primary funding source for wildlife conservation in America,” said Lawrence G. Keane. “Firearm and ammunition manufacturers have paid over $16 billion – or over $25 billion when adjusted for inflation – since 1937 which has been the leading funding source of wildlife and habitat conservation in America. Efforts by bureaucrats to limit or eliminate the use of traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle puts those conservation funds at serious risk by increasing the cost and creating barriers to participation in outdoor recreation. The approval of this legislation by the House Natural Resources Committee is a significant step to protecting wildlife conservation and preserving access to our public lands.”

This NSSF-supported legislation would require the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to provide site-specific peer-reviewed scientific data in cooperation with state agencies that demonstrates traditional lead ammunition or fishing tackle is causing detrimental wildlife population impacts before prohibiting their use by hunters and anglers. The bill is in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) pulling a bait-and-switch that put hunters and anglers in a bind last year by opening up more National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) for hunting and fishing but at the same time outlawing the use of traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle.

The final rule was part of a “sue and settle” litigation between the Center for Biological Diversity and the USFWS and was implemented without scientific evidence or consultation of state agencies.

Requiring the use of alternative ammunition would put a significant cost barrier to participation in hunting and fishing on public lands. Alternative ammunition is, on average, 25 percent more expensive than traditional lead ammunition and less available. That barrier would “price out” many hunters and anglers and decrease the excise tax funding paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers they support.

Rep. Wittman told the committee, “Our hunters and anglers help restore wildlife and habitat… These lands belong to the people of this nation and we should never forget that.”

Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) said, “My friends rely on public lands… if you have huge increases in cost, you’re going to encourage people to leave this sport.”

He added that the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act would prevent hunting and fishing from becoming an “elitist” activity where “only those who can afford increased costs have access to public lands.”

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