March 30, 2020

Massachusetts: Reviewing CSF’s Active Engagement in the Bay State

Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Senior Coordinator

Sportsmen and women in Massachusetts have just cause for anticipating the legislature’s return to what may be considered normal conditions. Prior to directing the majority of its efforts towards responsive measures for COVID-19, the Massachusetts General Court had set itself in motion to host a Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol event, as well as deliberate over a comprehensive pro-sportsmen’s bill, Senate Bill 2501 (SB 2501), which includes many of the sportsmen’s communities’ top priorities that have been debated for many years. 

In light of the protective measures being taken by the General Court, the likelihood of hosting a Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol is uncertain. Despite this fact, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will continue to work with the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus towards hosting and facilitating Caucus meetings and events as the time is permitted and deemed appropriate. However, with regular sessions continuing, CSF is prepared to engage on the vital sportsmen-related legislation as it arises, such as SB 2501.

Introduced on March 19, SB 2501 combines an array of pro-sportsmen’s legislation, pulling together issues that CSF has ardently fought for on behalf of the Bay State’s sportsmen and women for many years. Drawing from some of the most comprehensive Caucus-driven pro-sportsmen’s bills, SB 2501 intends to do the following: authorize Sunday hunting for archery; bolster hunter harassment laws; authorize hunting with crossbows; provide authority to the state fish and wildlife Director and Fisheries and Wildlife Board to promulgate the regulation of ammunition types; permits upland hunting with a dog during deer shotgun season and makes the associated waterfowl exemption less specific, so as to apply to every location; repeals the moose hunting ban which would leave the decision up to MassWildlife if and when a season could be biologically supported; removes the requirement that an unloaded rifle or shotgun be enclosed in a case when carried on public ways; and removes the requirement that a firearm, rifle or shotgun on public land during the open season for deer, bear or turkey be in an enclosed case while on a snow vehicle, recreation vehicle, or on a trailer. The bill has been sent to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for consideration.

Of the numerous bills that comprise SB 2501, CSF has been directly engaged on five of them. Much of this came during a Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture public hearing on June 20 of last year. CSF submitted a letter of support for four Sunday hunting bills (House Bill 884, House Bill 887, Senate Bill 472, and Senate Bill 487) that wound up making their way into SB 2501. CSF also submitted a letter of support for two bills that would authorize crossbow use for hunting (Senate Bill 468 and Senate Bill 488) – one of which fought its ways into SB 2501. Over the past year, CSF has been in direct discussions with the Caucus Co-Chairs about supporting the many assets within this important piece of legislation.

There will come a time again when the Massachusetts General Court is able to direct its focus on sportsmen-related legislation, such as SB 2501. CSF will be actively supporting this bill as it is deliberated by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, though no specific dates have been announced.

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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