Why It Matters: (1) The TWRA is tasked with conserving Tennessee’s fish and wildlife, and HB 265 directly threatens their efforts to manage the state’s deer and elk herds by combating Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). (2) Trotlines have been utilized by fishermen for subsistence and recreational purposes for generations, and instances where trotlines have caused serious harm to recreationists are few and far between. (3) Allowing the indiscriminate baiting of Tennessee’s wildlife would contravene rules established by the TWRA and the Tennessee Fish and Game Commission.
- House Bill 265 would prohibit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) from banning the importation of cervid (e.g., deer and elk) carcasses into Tennessee. On March 1, the bill was voted down in the House Subcommittee on Departments and Agencies (Subcommitee).
- House Bill 1260 would unnecessarily limit the use of trotlines due to unsubstantiated “safety concerns” for boaters. On March 1, the bill was taken off notice by the Subcommittee where it is not expected to be added back to the agenda this session.
- Senate Bill 621 would remove baiting wildlife for the purpose of hunting as a Class C misdemeanor so long as the bait is not present at the actual time hunting occurs. This bill is expected to be voted on by the Senate on the afternoon of March 6.
HB 265: CWD is a progressive, always fatal, degenerative neurological disease that occurs in farmed and free-ranging deer. CWD is present in west Tennessee, and the ability to prevent its introduction into other parts of the state through carcass importation restrictions is essential to TWRA’s efforts to manage the disease. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted comments to the House Subcommittee on Departments and Agencies opposing the bill and expressing support for the TWRA’s statewide carcass importation restrictions which are consistent with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Best Management Practices for Prevention, Surveillance, and Management of Chronic Wasting Disease.
HB 1260: The TWRA adequately regulates trotline use to ensure both the safety of recreationists and the sustainability of the state’s aquatic resources. CSF submitted comments to the House Subcommittee on Departments and Agencies opposing the bill which would negatively impact licensed anglers, who contribute to conservation funding in Tennessee through the “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding.
SB 621: A key tenet of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which is recognized as the most successful wildlife conservation model in the world, is that wildlife policy is formulated using best available science. Through its public input process, the TWRA promulgates science-based regulations that also consider social and economic impacts, thereby following the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation’s recommendation for wildlife policy formulation. CSF submitted comments to the Tennessee Senate opposing the legislation and expressing support for the TWRA and its Commission to be the appropriate decision-making authorities for wildlife management, including the specifics on baiting.
CSF will continue to work with partners, including the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, to oppose these bills in support of the Volunteer State’s 994,000 hunters and anglers who contributed over $60 million to conservation in 2021.