The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: House bill would halt tactics used to limit outdoors pursuits
CONGRESS CAN’T seem to agree on much these days, but a piece of legislation some organizations call “the most significant, prosportsman legislation in 15 years” was easily passed Tuesday in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan 274–146 vote.
Thirty-nine Democrats were among those voting for the measure.
The bill, H.R. 4089, titled the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, consolidated four pieces of legislation.
These included H.R. 1558, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act and is designed to stave off the barrage of environmental activist petitions regularly sent to the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to ban lead bullets and fishing tackle.
The amendment clarifies that the EPA does not have the authority to regulate shot, bullets and other projectiles, propellants or primers, or sport fishing equipment components.
Among the most prolific organizations in generating these petitions is the Center for Biological Diversity, which has campaigned hard for the lead ban, alleging hazards to birds, such as eagles, and humans via lead bullets that “explode, fragment and spread throughout shot game that people then eat.”
The organization had filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government to force the EPA to ban the use of lead in ammunition and fishing tackle.
The organization’s website further states, “Studies using radiographs show that imperceptible, dust-sized particles of lead can infect meat up to a foot and a half away from the bullet wound, causing a grave health risk to humans.”
As one who knows many people who’ve made wild game a regular part of their daily subsistence for years, this sounds a bit like a cheap scare tactic. People who process wild game ranging from birds to bears trim away bloodshot meat, including any wound channels.
Another bill incorporated into H.R. 4809 was the Recreational Shooting Protection Act, H.R. 3440. This prevents a ban on recreational shooting on Bureau of Land Management lands nationwide and directs the BLM to manage national monument land in a manner that supports, promotes and enhances recreational shooting opportunities.
The related Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act, H.R. 2834, underscores that recreational hunting, fishing and shooting are appropriate activities on federal lands. Federal land management agencies are directed to facilitate expansion and enhancement of hunting on federal lands, stating that BLM and Forest Service lands are considered “open unless closed,” with any closure based on scientific evidence. Some 700 million acres of such land exist nationwide.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance notes that defending against multiple lawsuits filed by anti-hunting organizations trying to prevent hunting and shooting access on federal law or restricting fishing costs state and federal wildlife agencies and sportsmen’s organizations millions of dollars.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, R–Fla., and endorsed by a wide range of organizations affiliated with hunting and fishing and the shooting sports. Rep. Rob Wittman, R–Va., was a co-sponsor.
Some organizations have lined up against the bill, claiming it cracks the door on opening designated wilderness areas to motorized vehicles, such as ATVs, or introduces options for activities such as logging, mining or oil and gas drilling.
Yet during Tuesday’s debate prior to a final vote, Rep. Doc Hastings, R–Wash., introduced a successful amendment that stated, “Protection given to hunting in wilderness areas is not intended to permit motorized recreation or mineral extraction and reduces the reporting requirements.”
Hastings was a strong supporter of the bill on the House floor, asserting that some federal agency personnel and land managers “attempt to control these lands as personal fiefdoms and prevent legitimate uses and activities, including hunting and fishing.”
He also cited activist-group lawsuits and said, “In the worst situations, bureaucrats willingly roll over to such lawsuits as a convenient way to limit the use of these facilities.”
Proponents will now push for passage in the Senate.
TURKEY OPENER REPORT
Lee Walker, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ outreach manager, emailed a harvest report for the first day of spring gobbler season that shows things may be looking as good as forecast.
“We had 2,258 turkeys checked through our automated check-in system on Saturday which represents a 16 percent increase over last year’s Saturday opening of 1,942 birds,” Walker wrote.
One of those birds was a dandy checked by Chris McCall of King George.
Buddy Fines emailed a photo of a beaming McCall posing with a big tom sporting five beards off its feathered chest. Fishing guide and Yorktown schoolteacher Jorjcq Head also emailed me a photo of him and his father with two nice opening-day gobblers.
Either my skills at using a call to mimic a sultry, sexy hen turkey are miserable or the pair of gobbler turkeys I’ve been “working” have less than heterosexual tendencies—not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I’ve been doing everything but adding some Barry White background music to the woods. Maybe playing a little harder to get would work better?
Guess I better listen to that instructional tape again.
Good luck and safe hunting.
Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.