Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Sportsmen's Voice!!!!

Thank you to:
The Congressional Spotsmen's Foundation
For allowing to republish this newsletter for your enjoyment!

May 3, 2007
Volume 5, Issue 9

Refuge Partners Release Report Detailing Budget Problems

The National Wildlife Refuge System stands to lose 20 percent of its workforce and leave more than half of its refuges operating at a loss in the next five years unless Congress increases its budget, according to a report released by the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE), of which the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is a member. The report documents how the chronic under-funding of the nation’s refuge system is impacting not only infrastructure maintenance, but also staffing, hours of access and hunting and fishing programs.

Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), one of the leaders of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus and Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, is asking the Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing on the refuge system's budget woes. "Refuges virtually touch every congressional district in the nation, so everyone has a purpose for doing a better job of protecting them," Kind said.

Ads Reinforce Connection Between Legislation and Hunting and Fishing
An ad campaign aimed at continued awareness of the connection between legislation and hunting and fishing has been launched by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. The ads feature messages such as, “The future of hunting and fishing is also in politics - on the streets of Washington, D.C.”

Similar ads focused on state legislation have also been developed for the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses. With the 2008 elections looming, it is important for sportsmen to make the connection between the actions of their elected officials and their enjoyment of hunting and fishing. In 2004, sportsmen and women had a likely voter rate of 80% and a majority said they considered it essential that a candidate share their views on hunting and fishing issues. High resolution copies of the ads can be downloaded through the CSF website.

Wildlife Violators Compact Legislation Introduced in Ohio
Ohio Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) recently introduced HB 153, legislation that would permit the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Wildlife to enter into the National Wildlife Violators Compact. “Protecting Ohio’s wildlife from poachers and others who would violate the hunting and fishing regulations is crucial if we wish to continue having wildlife in Ohio,” stated Latta.

Currently 26 states are members of the compact which links a state’s database of individuals who have violated that state’s hunting and fishing regulations resulting in a suspended or revoked license to a national database in order to prevent the violators from moving from state to state and committing the same crime.

Michigan Working to Make Hunting/Fishing License Voter Registration Easier
Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senators Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau), Bruce Patterson (R-Canton), and Michael Prusi (D-Ishpeming) have introduced a pair of bills, SB 438 & 439, to make registering to vote even easier for sportsmen in the Wolverine State. The legislation would require that resident hunting, fishing or fur harvesters licenses include a voter registration section which would serve as the application to vote if signed.

Tax Credit and Wildlife Cruelty Bills Introduced in New York

New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Queensbury) has introduced legislation which would allow landowners of 25 or more contiguous acres to receive a 25 percent tax credit on their real estate taxes if they place the land in a forestry stewardship or habitat conservation agreement with the state. The land must be deemed valuable to fish and wildlife habitat, including hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing-related recreation.

The National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses is keeping an eye on legislation introduced in the Empire State that would extend the coverage of the state’s felony animal cruelty law to cover wildlife. The legislation is not currently written to affect lawful hunting or trapping licensed by the Department of Environmental Conservation, but NASC has observed similar legislation in other sportsmen’s caucus states where the written legislation has not been clear on how it might impact hunting.

From Utah to Vermont, Sportsmen’s Caucuses Take to the Range
State legislators around the country have been turning in their ties and jackets for shooting vests, taking a day off from voting to break clays and introduce their colleagues to recreational shooting and hunting. The outreach opportunities have been cited as great ways to remind them of what they are working to protect and promote as members of state sportsmen’s caucuses.

In Utah, National Wild Turkey Federation state president Jon Leonard provided one-on-one mentoring to Utah Caucus Co-Chair Senator Allen Christensen (R-North Ogden) by introducing him to the joys of turkey hunting. In July, the NWTF chapter will assist in organizing an event for the newly formed Utah Sportsmen’s Legislative Caucus.

Members of the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus members gathered for the 15th Annual Dinner and Auction, which was sponsored by a National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses partner, the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “As more and more state legislatures attempt to pass stringent gun-control measures, such as recent proposals in Illinois to ban assault weapons, it is incumbent upon industry to support those state representatives who support us," said NSSF senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence Keane. "Through active participation in sportsmen's caucuses around the country, we help to accomplish this mission."

In Georgia, more than a dozen legislators shot skeet alongside officials with the Governor’s office and partner hunting organizations including the Heritage and Wildlife Conservation Foundation, Georgia Chapter Safari Club International, and Quality Deer Management Association in the Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus shoot. The professional shooting instructors at the Tom Lowe Shooting Grounds had two legislators who had never shot before hitting skeet in no time and left them very excited about going back again.

Approximately 30 members of the Vermont Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus turned out to a shoot hosted by the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and National Rifle Association, a partner of the NASC. Many of the legislators in attendance had little or no shooting experience, something that volunteer instructors quickly remedied. By the end of the day, all shooters left behind a trap field full of busted clays. Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Steven Adams (R-Hartland) noted, ”It was ironic that the same day lawmakers in neighboring states were debating gun control, legislators in Vermont were practicing muzzle control.”

The leadership of the Missouri Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus rounded up more than 50 members of the General Assembly to take part in their annual day at the range and recruited the Missouri Department of Conservation staff to assist legislators with limited shooting experience. The legislators enjoyed their time on the trap, skeet and 5 stand fields before heading back to cast votes that afternoon.

In Florida, nineteen members of the Legislators' Sportsmen’s Caucus gathered to enjoy a low country boil and celebrate hunting, shooting and fishing in the Sunshine State. More than three dozen staffers and Caucus supporters also attended the event, the second dinner hosted by the Caucus this session. Back in March, a dozen members of the Caucus met for a Wild Game Cookout. Caucus Co-chair Rep. Baxter Troutman (R-Winter Haven) stated, “The freshmen members, and even some of the more veteran members of the legislature, are really starting to understand the value of the Sportsmen’s Caucus, and these informal dinners give them a great chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company, while at the same time understand the value of Florida sportsmen’s activities to our economy.”

The Sportsman's Link to Congress and State Capitols
Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses
110 North Carolina Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003