February 8, 2021

Nebraskans Should Beware of Proposals to Politicize Wildlife Agency

Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator

Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted letters to the Nebraska Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee in opposition of two bills that would change how members of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (Commission) and the Commission’s secretary are appointed.

Under the current Commission structure, each member is appointed by the governor and approved by the legislature. Legislative Bill 615 (LB 615) would amend that structure to require each member of the Commission to be elected by public vote during primary and general elections. While this proposed structure would allow the public to have a larger say in the structure of the commission, this change would also inject partisan, electoral politics into the day-to-day oversight and operation of the Cornhusker State’s fish and wildlife agency. Though similar, Legislative Bill 305 (LB 305) focused specifically on the secretary of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission by requiring the secretary to be appointed by the governor with consent of the legislature. The secretary, who acts as the director and chief conservation officer for the state’s fish and wildlife management agency, is currently appointed by members of the Commission.

While the provisions of both bills may seem insignificant, it is important to remember the role state fish and wildlife agencies and game commissions play in the conservation of our public trust resources and our ability to participate in our cherished outdoor pursuits. To accomplish their duties, it is critical that game commission members understand the significant contributions of hunters and anglers to the conservation of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources and use this understanding to ensure that their agencies are staffed and led by experts in the field of wildlife management. While democracy has an important role in conservation, this is best realized through the public comment processes that are currently afforded to citizens throughout the regulatory process.

LBs 305 and 615 now await further consideration by the Nebraska Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee. 

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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