HB 4647 Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Photo credit: Pete Bengeyfield|||| Photo credit: Pete Bengeyfield|||| ||||

This is a great opportunity to advance bipartisan legislation that will enable state wildlife agencies to better manage non-game species. Please call and write your Utah Senators and Representatives in support of HB 4647! It is especially important to contact Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources Rob Bishop as this bill currently needs to pass through this committee before it can be put up for a vote in the House and Senate. His phone number is (202) 225-0453. Please see below for background and info on what the bill does.

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Click here to write Rep. Rob Bishop.

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Click here to write Sen. Mike Lee.

Thanks to Kirk Robinson from Western Wildlife Conservancy for the following summary.

Most people who do not hunt don't realize that a large portion of the funding for state wildlife management agencies, such as the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), comes from an excise tax on hunting equipment: the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 (a similar act, the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950, does the same for the sale of fishing equipment). You can view funding and allocation pie charts at the UDWR web-site: https://wildlife.utah.gov/about-us/64-what-we-do/about-us/191-financial-overview.html

About 1/3 of all funding for UDWR comes from these two sources - that's about $32 million a year. The money goes to managing huntable and fishable species, yet most wildlife species do not fall into this category. In fact, less than 6% of the total revenue is dedicated to managing non-sport fish and non-game mammals and birds. In other words, only about $5 million is spent annually in Utah on these "other" species - though it can be argued that some so-called habitat "enhancement" efforts, such as chaining Junpier-pinyon and sagebrush collaterally benefit members of both groups of species (as well as livestock that graze on public land, which makes this point of dubious importance).

Now comes the Restore America's Wildlife Act (H.B. 4647), cosponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, which would channel money from federal mineral leases to state wildlife management agencies specifically for the purpose of protecting and enhancing the non-huntable and non-fishable species, which are by far the greatest number of species in our state. This money would be used only for these species. Not only will it benefit these species, but it has the potential of giving the general public that does not hunt or fish more influence in determining overall wildlife management policy. For example, it would give us a strong argument for making the seven-member Wildlife Board more balanced by including members of the so-called "non-consumptive" public. Right now, we have no representation on the Wildlife Board. And what representation we have had over the decades has been rare and in the minority. The result of changing the status quo to better reflect the opinions and values of the majority of Utahns, theoretically, would be more democratic wildlife governance. And this might also be scientifically more sound wildlife governance as well, since all members of the Wildlife Board, which is the statutorily designated law-making body for wildlife management, get to vote on hunting and fishing rules, not just non-game matters. This might be a long shot given our political overlords, but H.B 4647 is still a good thing. I urge you to contact your representative and the senators in Congress and tell them you want them to support it.

Here is clear and useful information on H.B. 4647: http://wildlife.org/recovering-americas-wildlife-act-legislation-reintroduced/

Here is a Letter to the Editor appearing in the Salt Lake Tribune supporting H.B. 4647: https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/letters/2018/02/10/letter-recovering-americas-wildlife-act-can-help-prevent-major-species-declines/

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