Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States and States Program Assistant
Why it Matters: Dogs are an essential element to numerous hunting pursuits, and their performance afield is heavily correlated to time spent outside. Anti-sportsmen have increased their efforts to cap the amount of time a dog legally spends outdoors, failing to understand that maintaining healthy amount of exposure outdoors is key to the well-being of sporting dogs and success in the field. Additionally, proponents of these bills make no attempt to consider or recognize the varying capabilities of different dog breeds to sustain themselves and thrive in adverse weather conditions. Regarding hunter harassment, it is paramount that hunters and anglers are protected from physical, verbal, and other attacks by anti-sportsmen extremists while lawfully engaged in our time-honored traditions. Passing legislation to protect sportsmen and women from verbal or physical harassments, as well as from the use of mechanical aerial devices, is a strong step in honoring the important role that hunting and angling have in our nation’s cultural fabric.
Massachusetts already has some of the most restrictive regulations regarding the chaining, tethering, and confinement of dogs. Despite this, time and time again the sporting community must rally to fight legislation that would handcuff a dog owner from utilizing a fenced-in yard or kennel for keeping a dog outside. Senate Bill 1099 paints all dog breeds with the same brush, prohibiting owners from the ability to “chain, confine, or tether a dog outside and unattended (1) for longer than 5 hours or (2) outside from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.,” specifically stating that “a dog in a securely fenced-in yard, a dog in a kennel, or a dog tethered” is to be considered “outside and unattended.” Sportsmen and women understand that the capabilities of certain dog breeds vary across the board – many of which rely on an increased amount of exposure to adverse elements in order to perform to the best of their abilities while in the pursuit of game. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) expressed these concerns in a letter of opposition that was submitted to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary during its hearing on May 19.
In preparation for that same Committee meeting, CSF submitted a letter of support for two bills that would update the hunter/angler harassment law, bolstering protections for the Bay State’s sportsmen and women. House Bill 1934 and Senate Bill 1105 would prohibit individuals from verbally or physically harassing sportsmen and women, including a ban on the use of mechanical aerial devices, such as drones, for purposes such as driving wildlife and intimidation. Efforts to pass legislation that strengthens what qualifies as harassment is a strong reflection of an appreciation for the benefits that sportsmen and women provide for the state, and they offer clear paths for recourse should such unfortunate instances occur.
CSF will continue to remain engaged on all three of these bills and will provide updates 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?