Byline: Kirstie Pike, CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women
How often do we really get to receive some good news from Capitol Hill? Well, brace yourself because we JUST did!
H.R. 2406, also known as the SHARE (Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement) Act of 2015 was passed by the House of Representatives on February 26, 2016. This bill was introduced in May of 2015 and is essentially a compilation of several bills. The aim of the SHARE Act is to revise a number of our existing programs to expand access to and opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. Sportsmen and women have been watching this progress closely. While it is a victory for the hunting/fishing/shooting communities, the bill will now move on to the Senate.
So…what exactly IS in the SHARE Act that is beneficial to our outdoor community? Here are the Cliff Notes…to view the bill in its entirety, you can view it online at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2406/text.
HUNTING,FISHING AND RECREATIONAL SHOOTING PROTECTIONS ACT:
The bill makes the lead ammunition exemption from the EPA regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act a permanent. This includes shot shells, cartridges and components of shot shells and cartridges. Lead poisoning among non-target animals had been traced to lead shotgun shells and lead was subsequently banned to protect migratory waterfowl and other birds from lead toxicity. The bill also prevents the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture from regulating the use of ammunition and fishing tackle based on lead content.
TARGET PRACTICE AND MARKSMANSHIP TRAINING SUPPORT ACT:
The bill amends the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to increase the proportion of funding that states may use for acquiring land for public target ranges. Additionally, it encourages federal land management agencies (U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) to cooperate with state and local governments to maintain recreational shooting ranges.
Congress found the use of firearms and archery equipment for target practice on federal land is allowed. In recent years, portions of the Federal land have been closed to target practice for many reasons. This bill allows for construction of public shooting ranges on lands managed by the USFS and BLM.
POLAR BEAR CONSERVATION AND FAIRNESS ACT:
The bill establishes that the Secretary of the Interior shall authorize import permits of 41 polar bears legally harvested from approved populations in Canada before the polar bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Polar Bears were listed in May of 2008. In other words, a permit may be issued for the importation of any polar bear part from a polar bear taken in Canada to any person who submits a permit application with proof that the polar bear was legally harvested before May 2008.
RECREATIONAL LANDS SELF-DEFENSE ACT
The bill authorizes the lawful possession of firearms pursuant to STATE law on lands managed by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of a water resource development project, so long as the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm and the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the STATE. This simply means the Secretary of the Army can enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm at a water resources development project provided the individual is carrying a firearm in accordance with state law.
WILDLIFE AND HUNTING HERITAGE CONSERVATION COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The bill establishes the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting and recreational shooting. It also requires the submission of an annual report to the aforementioned secretaries as well as relevant Congressional Committees. This is a great bill for the hunting/shooting community.
Duties of the WHHCCAC will include, but are not limited to the following:
- Facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunites
- Facilitate the management of game species and their habitat.
- Create polices or programs to conserve and restore wetlands, agricultural lands, grasslands, forest and rangeland habitats.
- Create policies or programs to promote opportunities and access to hunting and shooting sports on federal lands.
- Create policies or programs to recruit and retain new hunters and shooters
- Create programs to increase public awareness of wildlife conservation and the social and economic benefits of recreational hunting and shooting.
- Create policies or programs to promote cooperation among the hunting/shooting community, wildlife conservation groups and states, tribes and Federal Government.
RECREATIONAL FISHING AND HUNTING HERITAGE AND OPPORTUNITIES ACT
The bill requires federal public land management officials to facilitate hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal lands. This not only creates more access, but it is seen as an economic gain for the individual states.
FARMER AND HUNTER PROTECTION ACT
The bill revises standards for determining what a baited area is for purposes of the prohibition on taking migratory game birds. It is unlawful to take any migratory game bird by baiting or on or over any baited area if the person knows or SHOULD reasonably know the area is baited.
TRANSPORTING BOWS ACROSS NATIONAL PARK SERVICE LANDS
The bill prevents the National Park Service from prohibiting individuals from transporting bows and crossbows through NPS lands provided the crossbow is not cocked and all arrows are secured in a quiver.
FEDERAL LAND TRANSACTION FACILITATION ACT
The bill reauthorizes the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act to extend the authority provided to the BLM to sell federal land for ranching, community development and other projects. The bill also allows federal agencies to use funds in the federal land disposal account for deferred maintenance activities or the acquisition of lands that my help address deferred maintenance activities.
AFRICAN ELEPHANT CONSERVATION AND LEGAL IVORY POSSESSION ACT
The bill authorizes the possession, sale, delivery, receipt, shipment or transportation of African elephant ivory that has been LAWFULLY imported or crafted in the United States. It also authorizes the importation of a sport-hunted African elephant trophy if certain requirements are met.
And there you have it…in a nutshell. Having this bill pass through the House of Representatives was a great win for the hunting/shooting community. We will be watching the progress through the Senate and will keep you posted! What can you do? Reach out to your state senators to show support!
Kirstie Pike- CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women