Even when we hit a wall, we’re still winning
By Matt Smythe
Advocating for fish, wildlife, and habitat conservation as well as hunters’ rights is an all-in proposition. A vocal, united, and persistent hunting community is the single best defense against anti-hunting interests that would love nothing more than for our sporting heritage to simply disappear.
The month of May is a perfect example of just how important our Howls were in the outcome of a number of issues across the country. While we didn’t win on every front, our voice was heard and taken to heart at some of the highest levels in state and federal offices.
Two examples would be the veto of an important Colorado wolf reintroduction bill and the narrowly defeated effort to lift the Maine Sunday hunting ban.
Colorado bills SB23-256 and SB23-255 were both approved by large margins by the state legislature and sent to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk to be signed into law. SB23-256 would mandate a 10(j) waiver, identifying the reintroduced wolves as an experimental population without Endangered Species protections and moving management of the wolves to the state.
We knew it would be an extremely heavy lift to get the Governor to sign since it was well-known he was against the bill. In spite of thousands of emails in support of the bill, and the overwhelming support of both chambers of the state legislature, Gov. Polis vetoed the bill.
But the fight isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
In Maine, our push to lift the state’s Sunday hunting ban fell just short in the state legislature. LD 1241 would’ve allowed for Sunday hunting with a bow or crossbow only and with a $31 fee returning to conservation and youth hunter education.
Similar bills have been introduced and voted down over the last few decades. None of them had the element of compromise, as this bill does — nor did they have the same level of public support.
With 48 percent of the state in support of the bill, 25 percent neutral on the issue, and only 27 percent opposed — and the resounding support of thousands in the hunting community — it’s a complete head-scratcher why legislators ultimately failed to lift the ban.
Again, the fight isn’t over here either. Be on the lookout for more information.
On the big win front, Nevada Bill SB90 is dead.
Nevada has long suffered from the overpopulation of feral horses on its landscape. Populations continue to rise unchecked and are now at several times the carrying capacity of the habitat. With nearly 60,000 in “off-range” care at BLM corrals, the situation continues to degrade every year, with a lasting drought, increasing horse numbers, and more horses than adoptions can accommodate.
Adding another spark to the tinderbox, SB90, which would designate the “wild mustang as the official state horse of Nevada,” was introduced in the state legislature. Thankfully, our overwhelming opposition to the bill made a strong impression, and the “state horse” designation died a quick and decisive death.
Our friends in South Australia, who are facing a ban on bowhunting, are seeing some significant support from our community and the state’s elected officials. While the ban has been approved, it has not been implemented, and, if the legislative response is any indication, it may simply be left on the books to gather dust.
Our partner organization in Australia forwarded this email response from Hon. Heidi Girolamo, MLC, Member of the Legislative Council:
“In terms of our understanding around community pushback, I can let you know that our inbox has been inundated with correspondence on this. Probably 1,500 people have written to us, as you initially did, far outweighing any other issue that has been brought to our attention thus far.”
Our Howls are making a difference.
Likewise, support for predator management in B.C. is receiving a great deal of attention. There is a growing body of science showing that the reduction in wolf density in British Columbia’s caribou recovery areas is helping endangered caribou recover.
Mike Bernier, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Peace River South, replied directly to one of our staff’s emails:
This is something that I am very supportive of, understanding the balance that we need to achieve to protect our wildlife at all levels in the backcountry. We have seen huge success in managing the wolf population around rural British Columbia and helping grow and sustain our ungulate populations. We must continue to make science-based decisions on a land base, rather than emotional or political ones. I will continue advocating for this in my role as MLA.
Visit our Action Den to stay up on any additional actions where your voice is needed.
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The amount of time and energy we put into advocating for hunters, wildlife, and habitat is well beyond a full-time effort. The hours spent by our small team and the cost of running HOWLl’s unique platform, are funded solely by memberships and donations.
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