Contact: Joe Mullin, Manager, Northeastern States
Why it Matters: Legislative and administrative efforts that encourage and expand the abilities of hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers by increasing access and opportunities have the potential to immediately bolster financial support for state fish and wildlife agencies, thus supporting their mission-driven conservation projects. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has a proven tenure of fighting to secure additional funding for these agencies while lifting prohibitive policies. Removing Sunday hunting restrictions and decreasing large discharge distances would allow sportsmen and women to spend more time and money in their pursuits, which ultimately results in increased economic impacts for both the state fish and wildlife agency and local communities.
As was previously reported, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 (FY2023) budget and subsequent supplemental budget included the removal of the Sunday hunting restriction for archery deer season, a decrease in the archery discharge distance by half, and a requirement that the Commonwealth’s general fund annually reimburse the Inland Fisheries and Game Fund for lost revenue to discounted or free hunting or fishing licenses. In the weeks that followed, each of these provisions was stricken from the proposed FY23 budget during the budget making process. However, that was not the last we would be hearing of these pro-sportsmen’s policies.
As a result of the unfortunate cutting of these provisions, Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Anne Gobi has taken the reins and introduced several priority amendments for re-inclusion or introduction into the budget. These amendments include: Amendment 4, which intends to reimburse the Inland Fisheries and Game Fund for lost revenue attributed to discounted or free licenses; Amendment 5, which would establish a wildland acquisition account for the sole purpose of purchasing and then managing land containing wildlife habitat; Amendment 16, which would authorize crossbows for hunting; Amendment 17, which would cut the bowhunting discharge distance in half from 500 feet to 250 feet; and Amendment 18, which would authorize bowhunting on Sundays.
CSF has fought ardently in favor of most of these pro-sportsmen’s policies. This past January, CSF submitted a letter of support and testified before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in favor of Sunday hunting, crossbow expansions, and reimbursing the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for lost revenue from free and discounted licenses – among several other topics.
CSF applauds Senator Gobi for her continued efforts on behalf of Massachusetts’ outdoor sporting community. For more information on the proposed amendments, please follow this link. Additional updates will be provided as they are made available.
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?