By Joel Hodgdon, Central Midwestern States Coordinator
On July 23, over 30 legislative sportsmen’s caucus members from seven states across the Midwest and Southeast regions came together for a policy forum and reception in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) staff John Culclasure, Bee Frederick, and Joel Hodgdon were also in attendance. The reception, held during the Southern Legislative Conference’s annual meeting, focused on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) a growing threat to the health of the deer herds in North America.
“Our Caucus was proud to represent the state of Missouri and help sponsor and host this event,” said Missouri Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Robert Ross. “I was glad to see that so many of my legislative colleagues from the state and nation are interested in learning more about this terrible disease and what can be done to stop it. Deer season is a big deal in my family, and I want to make sure my sons have the same opportunity to harvest deer and contribute to conservation that I have had.”
During the reception, experts from the Missouri Department of Conservation presented on CWD, providing information on the disease’s history, spread, and methodologies that various states have utilized to combat the spread of the disease. Attendees also learned about the effort against CWD at the federal level, where Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus members have introduced legislation to provide states with additional resources to counter and research CWD.
“CWD is a serious threat to our hunting heritage,” said Kentucky Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair and National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council Member Senator Robin Webb. “It was great to see the strong interest from state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses and I look forward to increased collaboration with my colleagues in other states in the fight against CWD.”
Attendees also included NASC Executive Council Alternate Member Representative Jerry Costello (Illinois) and Missouri Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator David Schatz.
This event’s Presenting Sponsor was Reynolds American. Title Sponsors of the event included Bass Pro Shops and the Missouri Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. Host sponsors included the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Ducks Unlimited, the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance and Wildlife Mississippi.
National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member and Kentucky Caucus Co-Chair Senator Robin Webb (center) discussed the challenges and opportunities hunters and anglers face at the state and federal levels.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?