From Maine to California, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) has had a busy start to 2014. Here are just a few of the key issues in which USSA has been involved.
Maine Bear Hunting
USSA is working closely with sportsmen in Maine as they face a November ballot initiative that would ban bear hunting with dogs, bear trapping and hunting bears with bait. While the antis are flying under the banner of “Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting,” there is little Maine-based about this effort. To date, 99% of the money raised (more than $700,000) has been contributed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the country’s largest anti-hunting group.
The fight over wolf management in the Western Great Lakes states has been at the forefront of our legal work. For the past five years, the USSA Foundation (USSAF) has worked hard to see wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin removed from the Endangered Species List (ESA) and rightfully returned to state management. USSAF is currently engaged in two lawsuits over wolves: 1) a lawsuit filed in Wisconsin that is seeking to stop the use of dogs in the state’s recently established wolf hunt, and 2) a federal lawsuit brought by HSUS and other animal rights organizations to overturn the delisting of wolves from the ESA.
Nebraska Mountain Lions
Just days after the start of Nebraska’s inaugural mountain lion hunting season, a bill was introduced to ban the hunt. The measure would have removed the authority of the Game and Parks Commission to manage the state’s growing mountain lion population including utilizing a hunt as a management tool. Under pressure from Senator Ernie Chambers, the state’s legislature passed the measure in late March. Four days later, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman sent a message of support for sportsmen and scientific wildlife management when he vetoed the anti-hunting bill. Despite repeated attempts to overturn the veto, USSA and our partners were able save the hunting season.
Families Afield has enjoyed strong start in 2014, with bills being approved in Utah and Wyoming, while a bill in Kansas is awaiting approval of the governor. The Utah legislation establishes an apprentice hunting program, while Kansas and Wyoming bills further expand their existing programs. Apprentice hunting, the staple of the Families Afield initiative, allows a new hunter to try hunting under the watchful eye of an experienced mentor prior to completing hunter education. Families Afield was launched in 2005 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and USSA. Along with the support of the NRA and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Families Afield has passed bills in 35 states, paving the way for more than 1.2 million new hunters to join our ranks.
USSA Opens Western U.S. Office
In March, USSA opened a western U.S. office in Sacramento, California. The western headquarters will play a significant role in protecting the deep-rooted outdoor heritage found in the Golden State. “Expanding our operations is a natural progression for our organization as we plan to more effectively protect the interests of sportsmen across the country,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO. “Many of the issues caused by the anti-hunting community arise in the western U.S. and particularly California. With a mission to protect hunting, fishing and trapping, we see it as our responsibility to be there to defend America’s outdoor heritage.”