North Carolina Adds Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment to State Constitution

This was one of the surprising wins of the night, and is a win for conservation!

 

North Carolina just became the 22nd state to enshrine the right to hunt and fish (RTHF) in its state constitution. At 99% precincts reporting, the ballot measure passed 57.18% to 42.82%.

 

This amendment will limit the state’s ability to unscrupulously “regulate hunting and establish hunting as the “preferred” means of managing wildlife.”

 

Here’s the language of the ballot measure spelling out how hunting and fishing heritage will be protected:

 

This amendment would acknowledge the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, and to use traditional methods to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife. The amendment does not define “traditional methods.”

 

This right would be subject to laws passed by the Legislature and rules (i) to promote wildlife conservation and management and (ii) to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. If it passes, the amendment will not affect any laws regarding trespassing, property rights or eminent domain. The amendment does not address its effect on local laws concerning public safety or on commercial hunting and fishing.

 

The amendment would also establish that public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.

 

This ballot measure was heavily supported by National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and National Shooting Sports Foundation. It also won support from North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission.

 

It was heavily opposed by anti-hunting groups like the Humane Society. Governor Rory Cooper (D-NC) and North Carolina’s Democrat Party also voiced their opposition to it.

 

A lot of money poured into from anti-hunting interests to see this measure defeated—approximately $1.2 million:

 

As previously reported, Vermont was the first state to pass such an amendment in 1777. Since 1996, 20 more states adopted this amendment. Here’s what they entail:

 

Sportsmen in many states increasingly feel as if they are the ones outside the duck blind, and they are turning to state constitutions to ensure their hallowed pastime will continue in perpetuity. Increasing urbanization, decreased habitat, declining numbers of sportsmen, and more restrictions on hunting are common factors in the quest to assert the right to hunt and fish in a state’s most basic and difficult-to-amend document. On land that has been traditionally open to sportsmen, development of farmland and forests, along with pressure from other recreational groups such as hikers and off-road vehicles, is putting the pinch on the available land for harvesting game and fish…Opponents state that these provisions clutter a constitution and overstate the threat to these activities, while possibly limiting or increasing the amount and severity of restrictions that can be placed on sportsmen activities. The Humane Society states, “The constitution should guarantee fundamental democratic rights, not provide protection for a recreational pastime.

 

This is a win for conservation. I hope more states pass similar amendments to safeguard our hunting and fishing heritage.

National Hunting and Fishing Day is Saturday. Will You Participate?

September 22nd marks the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day, which has been celebrated since 1972.

 

Saturday marks the return of the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day, which encourages sportsmen and women to promote true conservation efforts. It also serves as a perfect occasion to introduce someone new to hunting, fishing, and/or shooting sports.

 

It takes place every fourth Saturday in September, conveniently coinciding with the start of fall hunting season. This year, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will serve as Honor Chair of the event.

 

Sponsors of this year’s event include Bass Pro Shops, Realtree Outdoors, National Wild Turkey Federation, Yamaha, Ducks Unlimited, Wonders of Wildlife Museum, and National Shooting Sports Foundation.

 

This isn’t a new holiday. The idea was introduced to both chambers of Congress back in the 1970’s. At the insistence of the NSSF, Senator Thomas McIntyre (D-NH) introduced Joint Resolution 117 in June 1971 to authorize the annual holiday on the fourth Saturday of every September. Congressman Bob Sikes (D-FL) introduced a companion House version afterwards.

 

Congress unanimously passed these key pieces of legislation in early 1972. NHFDay.org’s website says President Richard Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day on May 2, 1972. The full proclamation reads as follows:

 

For many years, responsible hunters and fishermen have been in the vanguard of efforts to halt the destruction of our land and waters and protect the natural habitat so vital to our wildlife.

 

Through a deep personal interest in our wildlife resources, the American hunter and fisherman have paved the way for the growth of modern wildlife management programs. In addition, his purchase of licenses and permits, his payment of excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, and his voluntary contributions to a great variety of conservation projects are examples of his concern for wildlife populations and habitat preservation.

 

His devotion has promoted recreational outlets of tremendous value for our citizens, sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike. Indeed, he has always been in the forefront of today’s environmental movement with his insistence on sound conservation programs.

 

In recognition of the many and worthwhile contributions of the American hunter and angler, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 117, has requested the President to declare the fourth Saturday of September 1972 as National Hunting and Fishing Day.

 

Now, Therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Saturday, September 23, 1972, as National Hunting and Fishing Day.

 

I urge all our citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.

 

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-sixth.

 

I’ll be doing my part to promote conservation this weekend with my participation in an outdoor kids camp down in Virginia Beach, VA to benefit kids of active military members. Will you introduce someone new to fishing, hunting, or shooting sports this weekend?

 

Good News: Fishing Participation Continues to Rise

Recent findings from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation found that fishing participation is up again.

Forthcoming information by both Outdoor Foundation Outdoor Recreation Participation Report and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Historical Fishing License Sales Data have concluded an uptick in fishing for the second year in a row.

This comes after a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife report showing an 8.2% in fishing participation during the 2011-2016 period.

Resurgent’s Gabby Hoffman Interviews GoWild Co-Founder About Their App

Gabriella interviewed GoWild co-founder Brad Luttrell about their app, hunting as conservation, and why their app works.

Yesterday, I did a Facebook Live interview with Brad Luttrell of GoWild—the hottest outdoor application for fishing, hunting, and outdoor enthusiasts to hit the market.

Here’s the gist of our discussion:

—What is GoWild and how does the app function?

—How GW is engaging in creative disruption and how in turn that’s drawing in 13-17-year-olds

—How GW is supplementing, not replacing, certain social media platforms like Instagram which are subjected to attacks from those who hate fishing, hunting, etc.

—Brad discussed the launch of the GW podcast “Restless Native” and the goal behind it

—Where users can download GW and what versions are available

Follow GoWild on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and subscribe to “Restless Native” here. Download the app on iTunes and Android.

True Conservation at Work: Interior Plans Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on Public, Private Lands

Keeping in line with his promise to promote true conservation at Department of Interior, Secretary Ryan Zinke announced today that his department plans to continue expanding fishing and hunting opportunities on public lands. Citing the depreciation of 2.2 million hunters in the new USFWS study, Zinke believes this move — along with partnerships with private land owners — will help address the decline in hunting numbers, instead, by strengthening hunting participation in the U.S.

This move — known as Secretarial Order 3356— aims to “increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, including opportunities to hunt and fish” and “improve the management of game species and their habitats for this generation and beyond.”

“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” said Secretary Zinke in the official DOI press release. “The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands. As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4AM with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.

“Today’s Secretarial Order is the latest example of how the Trump Administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands. This means finding ways to expand hunting and fishing on public lands, improving access, and taking necessary actions to facilitate the enjoyment of these time-honored activities by any member of our society.”

Here’s what Secretarial Order 3356 will entail once it goes into effect:

  • Within 120 days produce a plan to expand access for hunting and fishing on BLM, USFWS and NPS land.
  • Amend national monument management plans to ensure the public’s right to hunt, fish and target shoot.
  • Expand educational outreach programs for underrepresented communities such as veterans, minorities, and youth.
  • In a manner that respects the rights and privacy of the owners of non-public lands, identify lands within their purview where access to Department lands, particularly access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation, is currently limited (including areas of Department land that may be impractical or effectively impossible to access via public roads or trails under current conditions, but where there may be an opportunity to gain access through an easement, right-of-way, or acquisition), and provide a report detailing such lands to the Deputy Secretary.
  • Within 365 days, cooperate, coordinate, create, make available, and continuously update online a single “one stop” Department site database of available opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on Department lands.
  • Improve wildlife management through collaboration with state, Tribal,​ territorial, and conservation partners.

Although he was confirmed in March, Zinke has done an extensive amount of work to bring accountability to his department. From decriminalizing lead usage for hunting and fishing on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designated lands to improving outdoor access on public lands, the former Montana congressman is proving to be a good steward of the environment by living the sportsman’s creed. He recently concluded his review of national monuments and offered some reasonable recommendations for the Antiquities Act of 1906.

I hope DOI and similar partners also take a look at R3 programs, which seek to recruit, retain, and reactivate participation in fishing, hunting, and the shooting sports.

It’s undeniable that fishing and hunting promote true conservation. Both industries pump back billions into the economy, help kids become proactive members of society, and make this country great. Those who seek to deprive Americans of opportunities to hunt and fish are doing a disservice to this country and to true conservation efforts.

We’ll continue to log Zinke’s efforts here at The Resurgent. Stay tuned.

101.6M People Immersed in Fishing, Hunting, or Wildlife Activities Last Year

The Department of Interior has cited a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report finding 101.6 million people–or 40 percent of the population 16 years and older–participated in hunting, fishing, and wildlife activities last year.

“This report absolutely underscores the need to increase public access to public lands across the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a press release. “Hunting and fishing are a part of the American heritage. As a kid who grew up hunting and fishing on public lands who later took my own kids out on the same land, I know how important it is to expand access for future generations. Many folks east of the Mississippi River rely on friends with large acreages or pay high rates for hunting and fishing clubs. This makes access to wildlife refuges and other public lands more important.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under the purview of the Department of Interior. The survey, DOI reports, notes increases in wildlife watching and fishing, but some moderate declines in hunting participation nationally. The study also reveals these outdoor activities have contributed $156 billion back into the economy. These studies are conducted roughly every five years. Here’s more from their findings:

The survey, the 13th in a series conducted nearly every five years since 1955, shows that the most substantial increases in participation involve wildlife-watching—observing and photographing wildlife. The report indicates these activities surged 20 percent from 2011 to 2016, from 71.8 million to 86 million participants during that time. Expenditures by wildlife watchers also rose sharply—28 percent—between 2011 and 2016, from $59.1 billion to $75.9 billion. Around-the-home wildlife-watching increased 18 percent from 2011, from 68.6 million in 2011 to 81.1 million participants in 2016. More modest gains were made for away-from-home wildlife watchers: 5 percent increase from 2011 to 2016, from 22.5 million to 23 million participants.

More Americans also went fishing. The report indicates an 8 percent increase in angling participation since 2011, from 33.1 million anglers to 35.8 million in 2016. The greatest increases in participation—10 percent—were seen in the Great Lakes area. Total expenditures by anglers nationwide rose 2 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $45 billion to $46.1 billion.

Hunting participation dropped by about 2 million participants, but still remained strong at 11.5 million hunters. Total expenditures by hunters declined 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion. However, expenditures for related items such as taxidermy and camping equipment experienced a 27-percent uptick, and hunting trip-related expenses increased 15 percent.

Many outdoor industry leaders also commented on the USFWS’s findings:

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 

“No one does more for our wildlife and or wild places than hunters. Any decline in hunting numbers, real or perceived, is of great concern since hunting provides the lion’s share of funding for nationwide conservation work thanks to excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment that garner more than $1.6 annually,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The RMEF remains committed to growing and ensuring the future of our hunting heritage as well as elk, other wildlife and their habitat.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Hunters and anglers form the foundation of wildlife conservation in the United States, consistently generating more funding for habitat and wildlife management than any other source,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan. “Industry, federal, and state fish and wildlife agency initiatives that focus on hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation are crucial to sustaining these conservation dollars and ensuring the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts have the opportunity, access, and awareness to pursue these time-honored American traditions.”

Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports

“I praise Secretary Zinke for his support of hunting and land access. The hunting and shooting sports community is grateful for an Administration that recognizes the economic, recreational, and traditional values of hunting and target shooting,” said John Frampton, President and CEO of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports. “Although the numbers of hunters have declined, we are optimistic they will rebound as a result of Secretary Zinke’s leadership, state wildlife agencies, non-government organizations, and industries working together. Hunting in this country is not only part of our national heritage, it is an important to our country’s economy, as indicated by the expenditures in the survey.”

Despite lower participation hunting numbers, outdoor industry leaders are optimistic Zinke’s leadership will help reverse course. The Interior Secretary has already championed sportsmen’s rights in his short tenure thus far. He rescinded the ban on lead ammo and tackle after getting sworn into office. Last month, he expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on 10 various national wildlife refuges across the country. Despite resistance from those claiming to be champions of sportsmen’s rights, Zinke has been proving his critics wrong by advancing pro-fishing and pro-hunting policies.

Sportsmen should be optimistic about more access to the outdoors with Secretary Zinke at the helms of the Department of Interior. We will continue to catalogue all developments from Interior here at The Resurgent.

 

Commerce Dept Reforms Red Snapper Fishing Rules in Gulf of Mexico

In an effort to improve private recreational fishing access in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Department of Commerce has listened to recommendations from sportfishing groups to extend the federal Gulf red snapper season by 39 days–instead of the current 3-day rule. The states affected include Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The amended red snapper season will run now through Labor Day.

Rep. Steve Scalise–who was critically injured from last Wednesday’s shooting in Alexandria, VA–led the charge to pass this important conservation measure to allow more anglers access to these particular fishing opportunities.

In a statement released by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s office, he thanked Scalise and other lawmakers for their efforts in reforming red snapper fishing limit rules.

“I’d like to offer my thoughts and prayers to Whip Scalise, his staff, the Capitol Police, and their families,” said Secretary Ross.  “Majority Whip Scalise and his staff have been incredibly helpful on this and a host of other issues, and I wish them and the other victims a speedy recovery.  Such a despicable act of violence has no place in our political discourse, and the Administration and Congress will continue to work together in service to the American people.”

The press release further expanded on the rules changes:

The new rule announced today will re-open the 2017 Federal recreational season for red snapper by the private angling component on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from June 16, 2017, through Labor Day, September 4, 2017. During this time, the season will be closed Monday through Thursday with the exception of July 3, July 4, and September 4. Correspondingly, the five Gulf States will bring their state red snapper water seasons into alignment with the Federal water season for the rest of the summer.

This is the first time in nearly a decade that decade federal authorities and the five states that rest on the Gulf of Mexico are cooperating to coordinate Federal and State private angler red snapper fishing seasons for the rest of the summer season.

Sportfishing groups also weighed in on the news last week.

“Today’s announcement providing additional Gulf red snapper fishing days is a welcome relief for the thousands of tackle shops, marinas, equipment manufacturers and other businesses who have suffered from decreasing public access to Gulf red snapper in recent years,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Conservation director, in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Garret Graves (R-La.) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.) along with the Gulf states’ marine fisheries agencies’ directors for working diligently to pursue this action.”

The previous designated period for the 2017 recreational red snapper season in Gulf federal waters was scheduled for June 1-3, 2017.

Here’s more from the Association for Sportfishing Association:

In exchange for these additional fishing days, red snapper harvest will not be allowed in state or federal waters on Monday through Thursday during the summer (with the exception of holidays). Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas may have additional fishing days in state waters in the fall depending on harvest estimates from the summer season.

The rules change will apply only to recreational anglers–not commercial fishermen or charter fishing. Hopefully, this is a small but important win for true conservation. Hopefully angling rights will be reformed to allow for other types of anglers to safely and ethically harvest red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico too.

New Bill Will Finally Modernize America’s Fisheries

A new piece of legislation introduced last month is aiming to modernize America’s fisheries across 11 states.

Known as the Modern Fish Act, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 aims to modernize recreational fisheries management. Many recreational fishing groups and corresponding businesses believe it’s time to accurately address limitations placed on saltwater recreational fishing opportunities at the federal level–which has previously cut off public access to federal waters and subsequently hurt businesses in the fishing industry.

Introduced by Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA), the Modern Fish Act (H.R.2023) was referred to the House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans on April 20, 2017. Fellow co-sponsors include Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), and Rep. Jeff Duncan — all representatives of states which sit on either the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Ocean.

The current law in place, the Magnuson Stevens Act, has resulted in cancelled fishing seasons, reduced catch limits, and placed undue burdens on anglers. The goals of this legislation are aimed at addressing the shortcomings of NOAA (or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), which currently oversees federal fisheries:

1.  Improve angler harvest data – It would require federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps).

2.  Require reviews of who gets the fish – It would require fisheries managers to finally provide a long-overdue review of how fishing quotas for individual species are divided between the recreational and commercial sectors. Rather than being based on decades-old decisions, the Modern Fish Act would establish clear, objective criteria upon which these decisions could be based, and require periodic review to ensure these allocations are working.

3.  Recognize the importance recreational fishing – Even though recreational and commercial fishing are fundamentally different, they are basically managed the same way at the federal level. The Modern Fish Act will authorize NOAA to use management strategies that have been successful at the state level.

“Private citizens who like to fish are on the losing end of the federal government’s failure to bring the way it manages our nation’s waters up to speed with the information age,” said Rep. Graves. “Our bill is designed to fix that. By leveraging technology and data collection capabilities that already exist, we can use real-time information to improve fisheries management decision-making and enjoy the flexibility that comes with being informed by accurate numbers. By modernizing federal fisheries policy, the Modern Fish Act will let us practice data-driven sustainability, get more people out to enjoy recreational fishing and unlock economic growth for coastal communities that rely so heavily on fishing activities.”

In an email to The Resurgent, Jeff Angers of the Center for Sportfishing Policy equally praised the legislation.

“Our nation’s recreational fisheries are being terribly mismanaged at the federal level due to policies that were never designed to manage the recreational sector,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “The negative effects on recreational anglers and the businesses they support such as tackle shops and manufacturers, marinas and motels, can be seen in multiple regions of the country.”

“The bipartisan Modern Fish Act would provide real solutions and increased access for anglers by promoting the use of modern technology to obtain more accurate data on fish stocks and by allowing regulators to use proven alternative management techniques,” Angers continued. “The time is now to fix these broken federal fisheries policies to get more Americans back on the water and enjoying our nation’s natural marine treasures.”

Many outdoor organizations have chimed in on the need for the modernization of America’s fisheries.

“We’re extremely grateful for Congressmen Graves, Green, Webster and Wittman for introducing this legislation that provides sensible solutions for anglers perpetually stuck in a commercial fisheries management paradigm,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “This legislation will allow federal management under MSA to finally embrace recreational fishing on the same level as commercial fisheries, promote access to America’s marine fisheries resources and fully realize the economic benefits of saltwater recreational fishing to the nation.”

“We applaud the introduction of the Modern Fish Act in the House and the efforts of Rep. Graves and his colleagues to modernize the federal regulations governing access to the public’s natural resources by boaters and anglers,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich in a statement. “We appreciate the Congressmen’s support for better management of our recreational fisheries that will bring federal management into the 21st century.”

Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association, said the bill is “a pathway to better management of America’s marine fisheries in the future.”

The groups who have touted the Modern Fish Act include American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, The Billfish Foundation World Fishing Network, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

This is long overdue. Let’s hope Congress can address this in a timely manner!