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A bill widely supported by hunting and sportsman’s groups that will raise the price of the Federal Duck Stamp from $15 to $25 passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week by a voice vote and now moves to the U.S. Senate for action. You’ll also read about the annual gathering of sportsmen-friendly state legislators in Oregon last week, and much more!
Bill Would Benefit Waterfowl, Wetlands
The U.S. House last week passed H.R. 5069, the Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014, introduced by U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), which raises the price duck hunters over the age of 16 are required pay for a stamp to $25 from the current $15.
Since 1991 — the last time the price of the duck stamp was increased — its purchasing power has declined exponentially due to inflation and rising land costs. The Duck Stamp Act of 2014 would build on this program’s long tradition of helping to conserve vital waterfowl habitat across America, especially in the Prairie Pothole Region, one of the continent’s most important production areas.
“Ducks Unlimited strongly supports this effort to increase the conservation impact of the federal duck stamp,” said Ducks Unlimited (DU) CEO Dale Hall. “The additional duck stamp funding provided by waterfowl hunters and other conservationists will not only conserve critical waterfowl habitat, but will also help ensure the future of our waterfowling traditions.”
2014 marks the 80th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in March 1934. Since its enactment, the landmark initiative has generated more than $900 million to conserve nearly 6 million acres of wetlands across the United States through the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and is considered a model of conservation efficiency.
Further, approximately 98 cents of every duck stamp dollar is spent to acquire or lease lands for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Senate is expected to take up the legislation sometime in the next few weeks.
California Gun Dealers Challenge Law Banning Window Displays
Four California gun dealers have filed a lawsuit in federal court against California Attorney General Kamala Harris for violation of First Amendment Civil rights. The plaintiffs are challenging a decades-old California law that prohibits the images of handguns placed in public view outside business that sell firearms.
On Sept 12, Tracy Rifle and Pistol, a firearm retailer and indoor shooting range located about 60 miles east of San Francisco in San Joaquin County, was cited by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms for displaying pictures of handguns in its windows, according to the inspector’s report. California Penal Code section 26820, first enacted in 1923, bans gun stores from displaying signs advertising the sale of handguns — but not shotguns or rifles. An adjacent window image at Tracy Rifle with a photograph of an AR-15 rifle was not cited by DOJ.
Similar statutes banning handgun displays remain on the books in Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C., but the California DOJ is apparently the lone state agency currently enforcing those provisions.
The lawsuit claims the restriction violates gun stores’ First Amendment rights, by severely restricting truthful, non-misleading commercial speech.
“The First Amendment prevents the government from telling businesses it disfavors that they can’t engage in truthful advertising,” said lead counsel Bradley Benbrook. “This case follows a long line of Supreme Court cases protecting such disfavored businesses from that type of censorship.”
Alaskans Told to Wait With Winter Bird Feeding
While much of the country has experienced unseasonably cold temperatures for November, residents of South Central Alaska were being told to wait a few weeks before placing bird feeders out because bears — both the black and brown varieties — were still stirring.
“We’ve had a flurry of bear activity reports lately, especially in parts of Eagle River,” said Jessy Coltrane, Anchorage area wildlife biologist. “People need to hold off on setting out bird feeders and continue to keep trash secured in buildings or bear-proof containers until the morning of trash pickup.”
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game generally recommends bird feeders be taken down in the South-central Alaska between April and November 1. Relatively mild temperatures so far this November, however, combined with little or no snow cover and an availability of human-generated food sources – particularly birdseed and unsecured trash in outlying neighborhoods from Eagle River to Homer – have some bears putting off hibernation.
“I would give it a couple more weeks (before placing bird feeders outside),” said Coltrane.”
State Sportsmen’s Caucuses Gather to Share Issues, Ideas
Last week, legislators from 23 state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses around the country gathered in Sunriver, Ore., to reflect on this year’s successes and discuss upcoming sportsmen-related issues.
The 11th Annual National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Sportsman-Legislator Summit was themed, “Yesterday’s Achievements, Tomorrow’s Aspirations.” The four-day Summit included a variety of sessions on issues including the recreational angling benefits to the National Fish Hatchery System, trapping policy challenges and successes, pros and cons to crossbow usage, national hunter recruitment and retention strategies, impacts of lead ammunition bans, technology and the fair-chase ethic, animal rights groups and their threats to state wildlife management, and the “right to hunt and fish” constitutional amendments.
“The agenda covers some of the most important issues facing the sportsmen’s community today,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “This Summit, as the largest gathering of sportsman-legislators annually, provides a forum for legislators and other members of the sportsmen’s community from all over the United States. They have the opportunity to share policy challenges and successes from their home states and work together on strategies to ensure the voice of the sportsman is represented in each state.”
Senator Robin Webb of Kentucky was re-elected as NASC Executive President for 2015.
“Now with sportsmen’s caucuses in 44 states, hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers are represented throughout the country, making the future bright for sportsmen’s policy interests,” Sen. Webb said.
Quote of the Week
“The average bass fisherman may think he doesn’t know much, and he’s probably right.”
– Charley Dickey,
Movin’ Along with Charley Dickey, 1985
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at email@example.com.
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