Why it matters: The legislative hearing on Thursday marks an important step in the legislative process for both bills. The Refuge From Cruel Trapping is another short-sighted piece of legislation that ignores steadfast wildlife science. The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization has provided approximately $31 million in federal funding to conduct roughly 185 research, restoration, and regional conservation projects, making this program critical for fish and wildlife within the Great Lakes region.
On January 20, the House Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act of 2021, a bill adamantly opposed by CSF, and also the Great Lakes Restoration Reauthorization Act of 2021, a CSF priority.
Prior to the hearing, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation sent a statement for the record to the Natural Resources Committee urging our strong opposition to the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act and our support for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization. CSF’s statement was referenced by the Committee’s Ranking Member during the hearing and was formally submitted to the Committee’s records.
The Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act is an emotionally based piece of legislation that ignores wildlife science professionals by attempting to prohibit wildlife trapping within the National Wildlife Refuge System. This bill ignores the federal agency tasked with managing the Refuge System, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who have stated, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals.” Wildlife trapping is one of the most highly regulated, sustainable, science-based conservation practices in the world, but this bill fails to account for the ecological and societal benefits of wildlife trapping.
The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration (GLFWRA) Reauthorization Act of 2021, led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Debbie Dingell (MI), seeks to reauthorize the GLFWRA program at $6 million annually through Fiscal Year 2027. The GLFWRA program provides federal funding to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to collaboratively work with states, tribes, and other federal agencies to conduct fish and wildlife restoration efforts. Specifically, GLFWRA authorizes funding for projects such as waterfowl monitoring, wetland restoration, culvert improvement, dam removal, and other important conservation efforts. CSF applauds Congresswoman Dingell for her continuing efforts to champion this important program.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to oppose the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act and will actively support Congresswoman Dingell’s Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization Act.
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?