Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why it matters: While CSF maintains that state fish and wildlife agencies are the entities best equipped to make decisions regarding the management of our public trust fish and wildlife resources, fish and game commissions – the governing body for these agencies – typically host public comment periods to solicit input on proposed regulatory changes. These comment periods provide the general public, including sportsmen and women, an opportunity to learn the reasoning behind proposed regulatory changes and provide their input. During the upcoming commission meetings in Kansas and Nebraska, both commissions will hear proposed regulatory amendments that include priorities for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. These include a proposed amendment to the definition of muzzleloaders in Kansas and a proposal to allow archery hunters to carry handguns for self-defense while hunting.
Ahead of the Kansas Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism Commission and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission June meetings, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has submitted formal comment letters supporting proposed regulatory changes in both Kansas and Nebraska. While CSF maintains that state fish and wildlife management agencies are best equipped to make decisions regarding the management of fish and wildlife, these Commission meetings provide an opportunity for dialogue and public input regarding regulatory proposals. This engagement ensures that state agencies hear from the public for whom they are managing these resources.
Among the proposed regulatory amendments in Kansas is an expansion of the definition of “muzzleloaders.” Currently, muzzleloaders only include firearms in which both the powder and bullet are loaded from the muzzle. However, advances in muzzleloader technology, including the new FireStick platform by Federal Ammunition, have led to the development of muzzleloaders in which the powder charge can be safely loaded and unloaded from the breech. This proposed definition change would bring Kansas in line with several other states which only require the bullet to be loaded through the muzzle. This technology makes it easier for some hunters to participate in the sport and allows the powder to stay dry resulting in a more accurate and ethical shot. CSF has supported efforts to update regulations and allow the use of this technology in several states and in response to this proposal, submitted a formal letter of support to the Commission.
In Nebraska, the Game and Parks Commission is considering a proposal to allow archery hunters to carry a handgun for self-defense purposes while archery hunting. Again, CSF submitted a formal letter of support for this proposed amendment which, if approved, would make Nebraska the 38th state to allow hunters to possess handguns while archery hunting.
To remain informed and engaged, sportsmen and women are encouraged to check their state fish and game commission’s website and take advantage of opportunities to participate in public comment periods. These opportunities for stakeholder engagement are important for agency officials charged with balancing the management of our public trust resources with the needs of the public for whom they are managing these resources for.
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?