Why It Matters: Protecting and maintaining access and opportunities for hunters and anglers while working to ensure that wildlife management decisions are guided by best available science is key to the mission of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). Through CSF’s engagement at the Tennessee General Assembly during the 2022-2023 legislative session, numerous anti-sportsmen bills were struck down which served the best interests of sportsmen and women in Tennessee.
- House Bill 265 (HB 265) would have threatened the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s (TWRA) ability to manage the state’s deer and elk herds to combat the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
- Senate Bill 621 (SB 621) would have contravened rules established by the TWRA and the Tennessee Fish and Game Commission on baiting, threatening the agency’s position as the state’s primary authority on science-based wildlife management decisions.
- House Bill 1260 (HB 1260) would have unnecessarily limited the use of trot lines by anglers for subsistence and recreational purposes due to unfounded “safety concerns” by paddlecraft operators.
During the 2022-2023 legislative session in Tennessee, CSF engaged on several issues covering a wide range of interests within the outdoor sporting community. One of the more significant themes this session was misguided attempts to undermine the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and make wildlife management decisions without considering the best available science.
This was evident in HB 265, which would have undermined the TWRA’s ability to manage Tennessee’s deer and elk herds to prevent the spread of CWD, a progressive, degenerative, and always fatal neurological disease found in both farmed and free-ranging cervid populations. HB 265 would have prohibited the TWRA from banning cervid carcass importation, which could have led to devastating effects on Tennessee’s deer and elk herds. CSF coordinated with the TWRA, in-state partners and the Tennessee Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) and submitted comments opposing the legislation to the House Subcommittee on Departments and Agencies where HB 265 was voted down.
Similarly, SB 621 would have allowed for the indiscriminate baiting of Tennessee’s wildlife and contravened the public input process that the TWRA uses to formulate science-based regulations, including specifics on the use of bait. This regulatory process is in line with key tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and follows this model’s recommendation for wildlife policy formulation. CSF coordinated with partners and submitted comments to the Tennessee Senate in opposition to this bill and expressed support for the TWRA and its Commission as the appropriate decision-making body for wildlife management. SB 621 was subsequently voted down on the Senate floor.
Lastly, CSF engaged on HB 1260 by coordinating with partners and submitting comments urging members of the House Subcommittee on Departments and Agencies to vote “no” on this bill. CSF’s comments outlined the TWRA’s current regulations regarding trotlines, which take into consideration concerns from both the angling community and water recreationists and explained that the proposed changes brought forth by HB 1260 would unnecessarily limit fishing access on Tennessee’s public waters while attempting to tackle unfounded safety concerns. HB 1260 was removed from the subcommittee’s agenda where it did not reappear.
CSF thanks the members of the Caucus, TWRA, and our numerous in-state partners who helped fight for sportsmen and women and science-based wildlife management in Tennessee during the 2022-2023 legislative session.