Established with the dedicated purpose of protecting and conserving wildlife, game commissions have been understandably staffed by experts in the field throughout their existence. Such experts’ ability to make responsible and effective decisions regarding wildlife management has become contested through non-sportsmen and women pushes for representation on game commissions. Having board members that are neutral on the matter or even directly oppose hunting, trapping, and fishing leads to obstructionism, which in turn will potentially restrict access and opportunity for sportsmen and women.
Game commissions were created with a singular purpose - to conserve wildlife through regulations and sustainable hunting. Since their creation, these entities have been understandably staffed by experts in the wildlife management field: mostly hunters, anglers, and trappers. Utilizing their extensive knowledge of the outdoors, these commissioners have been able to make responsible, informed, and effective decisions regarding fishing and wildlife conservation. In recent years, however, people who do not hunt, fish, or trap, and in some cases are fundamentally opposed to these practices, have pushed for representation on game commissions. They believe that commissions should represent the entire population and not just hunters, anglers, or trappers.
The new pressure for non-consumptive constituents to be on game commission’s poses an alarming problem that directly threatens the future of conservation. Sportsmen and women contribute an incredible amount to conservation efforts through the purchasing of hunting licenses, permits, tags, stamps, and other outdoor related gear, in addition to other contributions from habitat organizations. Having commissioners that are neutral on the matter or even directly oppose hunting, trapping, and fishing leads to obstruction, which can restrict access and opportunity for sportsmen and women. If opportunities to hunt are reduced, it follows that sportsmen’s and women’s ability to contribute to conservation efforts will dramatically decrease, putting conservation efforts for both game and non-game species at risk.
Points of Interest
- In January of 2016, a pro-hunting California Fish and Game Commissioner turned in his resignation over frustration of non-consumptive obstruction from other Commissioners. In multiple instances, partisan politics has been the driver of commission regulation and not sound science, which sets a dangerous precedent.
- The addition of anti-sportsmen and women onto game commissions represents a dangerous shift in values, from conservation to preservation.
- In 2018, an Idaho Commissioner resigned following criticism and controversy after sharing pictures from an African safari hunting trip.
- In Oregon in 2019, a retired marine, rancher, and hunting guide was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Commission but was later rejected by the Senate following criticism by environmentalist groups for big game hunting photos on social media.
- In 2020 and 2021, New Hampshire saw legislative efforts to amend the qualifications that potential members of the Fish and Game Commission must meet, which would ultimately afford recreational clubs and non-consumptive organizations seats at the table.
- In 2021, legislators in Missouri (MO HJR 55), Nebraska (NE L 615), and Vermont (VT H 400) introduced legislation altering the composition and/or nomination process for commissions.
It is imperative to keep hunters, anglers and trappers on fish and game commissions, so that they may advance and protect the time-honored traditions that sportsmen and women hold dear. In addition, keeping pro-hunters on game commissions retains sportsmen’s and women’s ability to contribute to wildlife conservation through the purchasing of hunting licenses, stamps, and other outdoor related gear.
For more information regarding this issue, please contact: Joe Mullin, (202) 253-6883; email@example.com
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Your opinion counts
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?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (4.76%)
- Increase access to public lands. (26.47%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (3.99%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (14.73%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (41.31%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (8.75%)