Advocates concerned about proposed hunting bill’s impact on conservation fund

Advocates concerned about proposed hunting bill’s impact on conservation fund.

Last week, Republicans introduced a “Sporting Heritage” bill to promote hunting at a time when the number of hunters in the state is dwindling.

The bill, AB 311, would lower fees for first-time hunters, step up special hunter education classes and create a council to look at ways to recruit new hunters and trappers.

But some say the provision getting the least attention is the most significant: the bill would require hunting and trapping to be allowed on all lands acquired with funds from the Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson Stewardship Fund, which helps local governments and conservation groups buy land for conservation.

“It’s just a power grab by the people that want all that money for fishing, hunting and trapping,” says Scott Hassett, who served as Department of Natural Resources secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

The bill would require that any land acquired under the 22-year-old stewardship program be open for hunting and trapping unless an exemption is made unanimously by the DNR board.

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