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SHARE Act Passes, Wolf Management Still Uncertain in Some States

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Despite passage by the House that would end federal protections for gray wolves, Minnesota is introducing a bill to ban hunting as a management tool.

The House passed the SHARE Act (Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act), 242 votes to 161, last month, with 12 Democrats crossing the aisle to join the 230 Republicans in voting for the bill.

H.R. 2406 sought to expand hunting, fishing, and shooting rights on federal lands.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va., would allow for the following:

  • Increased funding for building and maintaining shooting ranges.
  • Allows for lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle.
  • Authorizes legal carry of firearms for self-defense on recreational lands.
  • Authorizes hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on certain federal lands, including wilderness areas and national monuments.
  • Allows for the import of elephant trophies if the country of origin is approved by CITES.
  • Requires the Interior Department to publish a management plan for overcrowded bison in Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Delists gray wolves from national protection, allowing states to manage their populations.

Many sportsman’s groups supported the legislation, including Boone and Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, American Sportfishing Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and more. A large number of anti-hunting and environmentalist groups also opposed the legislation.

The House Republicans concluded their background of the measure with the following:

According to the Committee, H.R. 2406 aims to protect Second Amendment rights and ensure that future generations of Americans will have ample access to federal lands to hunt, fish, and recreationally shoot. …Since lack of access is one of the key reasons why sportsmen and women may stop participating in traditional outdoor sporting activities, ensuring that the public has reliable access to our nation’s federal lands must remain a priority.

Public Lands Council President Brenda Richards spoke of the measure to delist wolves, saying, “This is a great opportunity to show that the Endangered Species Act can actually function the way it was intended.”

Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., who introduced the gray wolf amendment with Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., said it “received bipartisan support on the floor and moves us one step closer to claiming the recovery of the wolf as the conservation victory it is and returning management to the capable hands of the states.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wasted little time in signing the state’s wolf hunting and trapping season into law. The opening date was moved back to the first Saturday in November, which Walker said “moves the start date of the open season for wolf hunting to be later in the year to prevent conflicts with other hunting seasons in Wisconsin. Additionally, because wolf pelts are better quality later in the year, the value and desirability of wolf pelts will increase for our hunters.”

However, as Sportsman’s Alliance recently reported, Minnesota Senator Chris Eaton, DFL-district 40, has along with three other Democrat authors, introduced a bill that would result “in a total prohibition on gray wolf hunting regardless of their populations.”

Sportsman’s Alliance indicates that SF 2969 “removes scientific management of wolves from the department and instead implements a political decision that makes it much harder to repeal should management ever be needed in the future.”

Were this bill to be approved it would be a very bad move indeed for Minnesota wildlife, as an unmanaged, “over populated segment of Great Lakes wolves continues to cause damage to both livestock, pets and other wildlife, including moose, deer, cattle, and dogs”.

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SHARE Act Passes, Wolf Management Still Uncertain in Some States