August 5, 2019

Northeast: Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Hosts Policy Discussion on Public Access, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, Chronic Wasting Disease

Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Coordinator

On July 29, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted a policy reception in conjunction with the Council on State Governments Eastern Regional Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

CSF’s Senior Director of Northeastern States Brent Miller and New England States Coordinator Joe Mullin were joined by in-state and national conservation partners including Ducks Unlimited (DU), the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Miller provided introductory remarks and an update on the infrastructure of CSF, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, and the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus.

DU Government Affairs Representative Nikki Ghorpade also presented on the use of firearms as raffle items and access issues within the Northeast region. Anti-sportsmen legislators in several states introduced legislation to ban the use of firearms as raffle items this year as an extension of the anti-gun sentiment sweeping the region. Such legislation would negatively impact state-level conservation efforts, as much of the funding groups like DU raises through these firearm raffles is used to help state fish and wildlife agencies leverage federal dollars through the American System of Conservation Funding for on the ground conservation projects.

Mike Nerozzi, Director of Policy and Planning with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission spoke about the significance of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), stating that it is “a Federal bill aimed at dedicating 1.3 billion dollars annually to states and territories to implement State Wildlife Action Plans,” which are “a blueprint for protecting species of greatest conservation need.” On July 12, RAWA was introduced by CSC Vice-Chair Representative Debbie Dingell (MI) and CSC Member Representative Jeff Fortenberry (NE).

Finally, Bryan Burhans, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission presented on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease occurring in farmed and free-ranging deer, elk, and moose. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is one such state in which CWD has been detected. Executive Director Burhans emphasized the message that “the lifespan of CWD will be way beyond my career” and that it is up to legislators to act as a collective force in thwarting the spread of this vicious disease.

CSF would like to thank the following supporters for their time and efforts towards bringing the policy reception to fruition: Ducks Unlimited, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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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