Bear Hunting Defense Task Force Testifies to Congress

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Leaders representing the National Bear Hunting Defense Task Force, a coalition of sportsmen’s groups established by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance to fight federal anti-bear hunting legislation, testified on June 12 to urge a House subcommittee to protect bear hunting on federal land.

Three members of the National Bear Hunting Defense Task Force were in Washington, D.C. Thursday to express sportsmen’s opposition to HR 1472, a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D-Virginia) and Representative Elton Gallegly (R-California) that would ban bear hunting with bait on federal land. Task Force member Steve Haleen, past president of the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, testified before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans on behalf of sportsmen.

“This bill is an unfair, unwarranted attack on bear hunters and state wildlife authority and I ask the members of the subcommittee to defeat it,” said Haleen. “Unless there is an overriding issue, such as endangered species or the species are migratory, the federal government has stayed out of wildlife management and that’s the way is should remain.”

William P. Horn, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance federal affairs director and Washington counsel, also testified, echoing Haleen’s sentiment.

“Congress has continually determined that regulation of the taking of resident species of fish and wildlife, even on federal land, remains a state prerogative,” explained Horn. “Even in the case of migratory birds, the federal government sets a framework for hunting and leaves the specifics to be implemented by the individual states fish and wildlife authorities.”

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Vice President for Government Affairs, Rob Sexton, and Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association President Rick Posig also represented the Task Force at the hearing.

Nine states permit the practice of hunting bear with bait. Those states’ wildlife agencies say that the use of bait is an effective and necessary bear management tool. Moran and Gallegly want to take that option away.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance developed the National Bear Hunting Defense Task Force to stop the bill. The task force has been aggressively lobbying Congress to oppose any attempt to ban bear hunting with bait. Task Force Members include Arkansas Bowhunters Association; Bear Hunting Magazine; California Houndsmen for Conservation; Eastern Idaho Houndsmen Association; Michigan Bear Hunters Association; Michigan Bow Hunters Association; Michigan Hunting Dog Federation; Michigan State United Coonhunters Association; Minnesota Bowhunters, Inc.; North American Bear Hunter’s Alliance; North Carolina Bear Hunters Association; New Hampshire Bear Hunters Association; Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen; Virginia Bear Hunters Association; Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association; Wisconsin Bowhunters Association.