Why It Matters: The Department of the Interior (DOI) is one of the most important federal agencies for America’s sportsmen and women. Funding for DOI not only positions them to implement enacted CSF priorities like the MAPLand Act, but appropriations bills often contain language that limits or prohibits the use of funds for certain programs, as is the case with the anti-hunting-conservation language contained in H.R. 8294.
Last Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 8294, a bill to fund the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies. The passage of H.R. 8294 represents a mixed bag as the bill includes positive funding levels for a number of programs that are important to sportsmen and women. However, the bill also includes highly opposed and partisan language that would effectively prohibit the importation of elephant and lion trophies from certain African countries.
On the positive side, the House voted to include an amendment that supports funding the recently enacted Modernizing Access to Our Public Lands (MAPLand Act), a top CSF priority. Signed into law in May, the MAPLand Act authorized much needed financial resources over three years for the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Army to accelerate the modernization and digitization of public land mapping information. The MAPLand Act also requires that public land management agencies make their information publicly available on their respective websites to be easily accessible by the public.
On the other end of the spectrum, Section 439 of the Interior Appropriations spending bill would prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from using federal funds made available through this spending bill to issue import permits for elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania. This marks the fourth consecutive Interior Appropriations bill that the House has taken up language that includes this short-sighted language. The blanket prohibitions of Section 439 ignore sound science that clearly demonstrate the conservation benefit of existing hunting programs – programs that enable local host countries to support some of the largest elephant and lion populations in the world. Further, this legislation would deprive these countries of significant sources of conservation funding generated by the fees and other expenditures paid by U.S. hunters that are essential to range country efforts to maintain large wildlife populations.
Despite the perennial efforts by the House, CSF has been successful for years now in our efforts to ensure this troublesome language is not included in a final spending bill for the Department of the Interior. CSF is already at work to ensure we are successful in our efforts to defeat this language once again.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus to secure strong funding levels for our priority programs, such as the MAPLand Act, while also working to defeat short-sighted efforts such as Section 439.
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?