By Brett Stayton, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator
On April 24, Governor Larry Hogan, a member of the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus, signed both Senate Bill 182 and House Bill 7 into law.
Senate Bill 182 was sponsored by Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair, and Past President of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council, Senator John Astle and House Bill 7 was sponsored by fellow Caucus member Representative Johnny Mautz. Both bills were co-sponsored by many other Caucus members and enjoyed strong bipartisan support throughout the legislative process.
This newly enacted policy will allow hunters in the state to claim credits against their state income tax to cover the expenses of butchering and processing antlerless deer, so long as the meat is donated to organizations that help prepare nutritious meals for less-fortunate individuals throughout the state. Individuals who hunt and harvest an antlerless deer for donation are also eligible for an additional $50 tax credit as long as their hunt is in compliance with state laws and regulations. The bill also provides legal immunity from liabilities associated with the meat they donate in order to protect hunters donating meat with good intentions while also capping the maximum value of tax credits at $200 unless the donated deer are harvested with a deer management permit.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted written testimony in support of the House version of the bill when it was heard in Committee.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources currently has a partnership with Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH), which works to facilitate game meat donations through a network of participating processors and food banks. During the 2014-2015 deer hunting season FHFH worked with 42 different deer processors to provide over 650,000 meals to food banks and other programs.
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?