Anti-Hunting Wildlife Commission Bill Alert
Amended Version of Bill Could Close all Land to Hunting that is Not Posted as Open!
During this present legislative session, GOAL has alerted our members to a bill that all sportsmen and wildlife conservationists should be concerned about. S540 “Resolve Establishing a Wildlife Management Commission” is designed to “end run” the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife seven person board and give the animal rights extremists a platform from which to spread their propaganda. Keep in mind that the only wildlife management program that these groups have ever been involved in was the infamous Question 1 in 1996. I need not remind everyone that their single effort in wildlife management has been an environmental, economic, social and conservation disaster.
If this were not enough, there are a few more things that all sportsmen should be aware of concerning the new draft of the bill. S.540 was amended prior to being released favorably by the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. The new version adds the following language: "In addition, the commission shall consider the impacts of amending existing state policy regarding the placement of signs to prohibit hunting on private property, and whether signs should instead be placed in order to authorize such activity."
Although the bill only grants authority to the "Wildlife Commission" to study certain matters, this additional language should make it clear to every hunter the true intentions of this bill. If language like this were to ever be placed into law, it would mean that all lands that are not specifically posted as open to hunting would be closed! Imagine tracking a deer through a large section of land and being stopped by a law enforcement officer who tells you that you just went through a half acre of land that was not posted as being open and your hunting season is over and possibly your firearms are confiscated!
Secondly, there is also some confusion amongst sportsmen that the bill was amended in Committee to include that language from the Sunday hunting bill, the moose season bill, etc. These bills were attached to the Commission bill in number only. None of the hunting friendly language from these other bills made it into the amended version. So to make it very clear, there is no partial win in S.540 for sportsmen and women if it were to pass.
The bill currently resides in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. We urge all GOAL members to contact their local Senators and urge them NOT to support S.540.
To find out who your local Senator is, go to: http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.php
Track the progress of this bill here: http://www.mass.gov/legis/185history/s00540.htm
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. There shall be established a legislative commission for the purpose of evaluating and recommending non-lethal and lethal methods which shall be available to wildlife managers and the public, to successfully manage and co-exist with the following animals: beaver, muskrat, coyote and moose.
Said commission shall consist 13 members; two (2) of whom shall be the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on natural resources and agriculture, who shall act as chairs; two (2) additional members of the state senate appointed by the president; and two (2)additional members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker. The seven (7) remaining members shall consist of: the director of the division of wildlife, or his designee; the commissioner of highways or his designee; the commissioner of the department of conservation and recreation, or his designee, a member of the Massachusetts society for the protection against cruelty to animals; a member of the Massachusetts association of boards of health; a member of the Massachusetts sportsmen’s council; and, a biologist specializing in the species of coyote, beaver, moose and muskrat, to be chosen by the chairs.
The commission may make use of the expertise of additional state and local officials and wildlife experts as it deems necessary to fulfill its mission. The commission shall examine and evaluate the effectiveness of lethal and non-lethal techniques, including but not limited to the following: flow devices; repellents; improved signage; highway and yard fencing; public education; improved highway lighting; aversive conditioning, “critter proofing” techniques for homes, yards, and neighborhoods; trapping, and hunting.
In addition, the commission shall consider the impacts of amending existing state policy regarding the placement of signs to prohibit hunting on private property, and whether signs should instead be placed in order to authorize such activity.
The commission shall report to the general court the results of its investigation and study, and its recommendations, if any for such legislation necessary to carry out its recommendations. The commission shall file its report with the clerks of the state senate and house of representatives, and with the joint committee on natural resources and agriculture within six months from the effective date of this act.
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