Why It Matters: Together, both bills would bring about significant benefits to Maryland’s sporting communities. For the past 34 years, hunting and trapping license fees have gone unadjusted in Maryland. House Bill 983 would allow sportsmen and women to continue their historic role of stepping up to the plate and supporting conservation funding within their state. In 2021 alone, Maryland’s sportsmen and women generated more than $25 million dollars for conservation through revenue derived from license sales and excise taxes on sporting-related goods through the American System of Conservation Funding. Additionally, non-resident students would be able to enjoy all of Maryland’s hunting opportunities at much more affordable rates. Removal of the Sunday hunting prohibition would significantly improve access and opportunity for Maryland’s migratory bird hunters and would likely result in increased hunting participation. Finally, authorizing a tundra swan lottery-based hunting season would offer a distinctive opportunity to hunters and bring Maryland in line with neighboring states who also offer this season.
- On March 3, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) traveled to Annapolis in support of two pro- sportsmen bills:
- House Bill 983 – a pro- sportsmen package that would increase access and opportunity for resident and non-resident sportsmen and women, securing the longevity of the state’s time-honored traditions while also bolstering conservation funding for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
- House Bill 954 – legislation that calls on the DNR to request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establish an annual tundra swan lottery-based hunting season in Maryland.
- CSF testified in support of both bills, alongside key in-state and national partners, before the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
On Friday, March 3, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Northeastern States Manager, Joe Mullin, testified before the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee in support of House Bill 983 (H. 983) and House Bill 954 (H. 954). In several ways, both of these bills would open up significant access and opportunities for sportsmen and women within the Old Line State.
Among providing several benefits, H. 983 would increase fees for certain hunting and trapping licenses, a move that has not been taken in 34 years despite the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) taking on new and increasing responsibilities that provide additional access and opportunities for all sportsmen and women. Additionally, this legislation would allow non-resident college students to purchase hunting licenses at resident rates, so long as they can provide the DNR with proof that they are enrolled at a college or university within the state. H. 983 would also expand Sunday hunting opportunities in Maryland to include migratory birds. Access is a primary hurdle hindering participation in hunting, and restrictions on Sunday hunting provide a barrier to youth and others that work or attend school throughout the week and are often involved in extra-curricular activities on Saturdays.
CSF also testified in support of H. 954, which would enable the DNR to request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establish an annual tundra swan lottery-based hunting season in Maryland. As Mullin mentioned in his testimony, hunting continues to remain the most cost-effective, socially acceptable method of species population control. Three states on the Eastern Seaboard – Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina – are issued differing shares of the 5,600 tundra swan hunting permits allocated to the Atlantic Flyway. With tundra swans wintering in Maryland, a tundra swan hunting season would provide the state with a unique opportunity for sportsmen and women.
CSF was part of a larger collective of sportsmen’s groups and individuals who appeared to testify in support of one or both of these bills, including but not limited to Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Hunters of Maryland, and Charles Rodney. CSF thanks everyone who came out in support of these bills for their continued efforts in support of Maryland’s sportsmen and women.