Trust Us, You Want to Look at Massachusetts’ Proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Budget

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

  • On January 26, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker filed the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget, including several significant opportunities to advance pro-sportsmen’s policies in the Bay State.
  • The budget proposal includes two sections that all sportsmen and women should take note of – a lift on the archery Sunday hunting restriction for deer, and a reduction in the archery discharge distance from 500 feet to 250 feet.
  • Prohibitions on Sunday hunting serve as hurdles for existing sportsmen and women and as a barrier to entry for those who are interested in learning to hunt, while unnecessarily large discharge distances negatively impact hunter access in suburban and exurban areas.
  • Earlier this month, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Assistant Manager for the Northeastern States, Joe Mullin, testified in favor of four Sunday hunting bills in Committee and submitted a letter of support for lifting the restriction currently in place.

 

Why it Matters: Sportsmen and women have played a crucial role in funding conservation efforts in the United States for over 80 years. The American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays – public benefits” structure in which those who consumptively use public resources pay for the privilege, and in some cases the right to do so, has served a shining beacon for the management of fish, wildlife, and their habitats. Legislative efforts that encourage and expand the abilities of hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers by increasing access and opportunities have the potential to immediately bolster financial support for state fish and wildlife agencies, thus supporting their mission-driven conservation projects. Removing Sunday hunting restrictions and decreasing large discharge distances would allow sportsmen and women to spend more time and money in their pursuits, which ultimately results in increased economic impacts for both the state fish and wildlife agency and local communities.

On January 26, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gave a significant nod to the Bay State’s hunting community by including two key sportsmen’s policies in his proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The proposal includes the removal of the Sunday hunting restriction for archery on deer and decreases the archery discharge distance by cutting it in half, dropping from 500 feet from a dwelling to 250 feet. Both pro-sportsmen’s opportunities that were included in the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget have been priority topics for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation(CSF) for decades – in both Massachusetts and across the nation.

Just a few weeks ago, the CSF testified in support of four Sunday hunting bills before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. CSF highlighted, among several arguments, that allowing public land Sunday hunting would significantly benefit Massachusetts’ economy, particularly in rural areas, by increasing economic output and job creation. An additional day to hunt would mean more dollars spent by hunters in restaurants, hotels, gas stations and stores throughout the state.

Currently, Massachusetts has an archery discharge distance of 500 feet from a dwelling. Arbitrary and unnecessarily large discharge distance restrictions, particularly for archery hunting, pose a serious barrier to hunter access in areas where localized issues with overabundant wildlife populations are most apt to occur. Reducing this distance to 250 feet by way of the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget would allow increased opportunities for sportsmen and women, while also, as the proposal notes itself, “align with the setbacks in neighboring states.”

CSF supports the pro-sportsmen’s sections included within Governor Baker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget and encourages its adoption. Additional updates will be provided as they are made available.

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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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