Late last month, an alternative to the failed 2012 Sportsmen’s Act was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Unlike the 2012 version which was introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the latest iteration excludes reauthorizations of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (S. 51) and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
The good news is that bi-partisan support does appear to exist for other key elements which were retained including the reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (S. 368) and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (S. 741). Other provisions include a proposed amendment to the Federal Duck Stamp Act (duck stamp subsistence waiver) and a Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act (S. 738).
Another provision of interest is the proposed expansion of use of Pitman-Robertson funds for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges.
An additional section of the bill would abolish the E.P.A’s role under the Toxic Control Act as it relates to the oversight of lead in both fishing tackle and ammunition.
Other elements of the bill include a provision which would allow the annual importation of 41 sport-hunted Canadian polar bears. This issue appears to be a perennial button-pushing favorite as it seems to be a great way to galvanize the differences between sportsmen, conservationists and many in the environmental community who see polar bears as being the symbol of climate change-affected wildlife. This issue reemerged in June in the wake of a U.S. Court of Appeals (D.C. Circuit) decision which supported a lower court’s ruling on the 2008 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s prohibition on such imports.
In spite of its omissions, this 2013 version of the Sportsmen’s Act should be viewed positively, especially during a time when the term “bi-partisan” is so seldom used that it now requires “Googling” in order to rediscover its meaning.