Ducks Unlimited supports bill to benefit hunters

Act makes hunting opportunity on public lands top priority

WASHINGTON – June 29, 2009 – Ducks Unlimited applauds the introduction of two bills aimed at ensuring the next generation of waterfowl hunters has access to the duck blind, and protecting America's rich hunting heritage. The Hunting Heritage Protection Act, introduced by Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) in the Senate and Representative Denny Rehberg (Mont.) in the House would require federal lands to be better managed for hunting.

"Waterfowl hunting is a proud tradition, and we are pleased to see Congress acknowledging that," said Barton James, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "Waterfowlers have been supporting federal lands through duck stamp sales for 75 years, and we welcome this effort to ensure that hunting remains a part of America's conservation legacy."

"Waterfowlers have had a tremendous impact on conservation, but loss of access is limiting the positive benefits that duck hunters bring," said Chambliss. "This bill will help protect and expand hunter access, and ensure that waterfowl hunters can continue to be champions of conservation."

The measure would require federal lands, when possible, to be managed in a way that supports, promotes and enhances hunting opportunities. The bill also calls on federal agencies managing federal lands to submit an annual report to Congress explaining denial of access for hunting on federal lands. Additionally, agencies would be required to submit prior written notification to Congress before limitation affecting access to hunting on 5,000 acres or more becomes effective.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 13 million American's participate in hunting, and sportsmen contribute more than $76 billion to the US economy each year and support 1.6 million jobs. Hunting is recognized as an environmentally beneficial activity and is an important component of effective wildlife management.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization and has conserved more than 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands—nature's most productive ecosystem—and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.

Neil Shader