June 2, 2016

Hunting Advisory Council Weighs-in On Western Land Management

On April 22, the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council (WHHCC), a federal advisory committee that advises the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture on recreational hunting and wildlife resource issues, submitted a letter to both Secretaries providing guidance on how values of and opportunities for sportsmen and women should be considered in proposals seeking to establish national monuments on lands that are of importance to America’s hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters. Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane is currently one of the 18 Council members.

Among its recommendations, the WHHCC advocated for more inclusive public engagement, maintaining reasonable access for sportsmen and women, and retaining primacy of management by state natural resource agencies. The BLM responded on behalf of the Department of the Interior with a commitment to consider the interests of the sportsmen’s community, among other stakeholders. 

The WHHCC recently submitted two additional letters to Secretary Jewell; one addressing wild horse and burro management and the other addressing recreational shooting on the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM).

In the first letter, the Council expressed a growing concern with the mismanagement of wild horses and burros on federal rangelands in the Western United States. They urged the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to employ science-based management practices to mitigate the extensive economic and environmental costs associated with the growth of these non-native populations. The BLM responded on behalf of Secretary Jewell in agreement to the Council’s concerns on May 26.

The Council also submitted comments encouraging the BLM to restore recreational shooting on the Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM) as part of the SDNM Resource Management Plan scoping process. The monument, which has historically been a popular target shooting destination for sportsmen and women in Arizona, was partially closed to the activity due to a recent court order. The Department of the Interior responded to their concerns, ensuring that the BLM would engage with the stakeholders to find a collaborative solution.

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?

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