Maryland bill would create wildlife commission

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Sunday, December 30, 2001.

Bill would change Maryland wildlife agency

MICHAEL A. SAWYERS, Cumberland Times-News Staff Writer

CUMBERLAND -- Maryland House Bill 101, which will be introduced during the 2002 General Assembly session, would remove fish and wildlife management decisions from the Department of Natural Resources by creating a commission for that purpose, according to the head of a sportsmen's organization that requested the bill.

The bill carries extra weight because it is one of 15 bills in the 2002 House Leadership Package constructed by Speaker Casper Taylor Jr. and other high-ranking delegates.

"We asked the speaker to model the legislation after the existing program in Pennsylvania with their fish and game commissions," said Steve Palmer, who directs the Maryland Coalition for Responsible Wildlife Management. Palmer, a Washington County resident, said the entire effort of his group is to return the management of fish and wildlife in Maryland to sound, scientific principles.

"We are trying to get the politics out of fish and wildlife management that have existed for years in this state," Palmer said. "Maryland's natural resources are too precious to be managed politically."

Palmer said seven volunteer members would be on the commission that was suggested to the delegates. Criteria would be such that any candidates would need total support of the hunting community to be appointed.

"This was done to keep anti-hunters off the commission," Palmer said. "It is the same way the Pennsylvania commission is constructed."

Palmer said the coalition's goal is to have a wildlife management agency in the state that promotes hunting as a healthy, traditional pastime.

"I feel 100 percent sure the bill will pass the House and 90 percent sure it will pass the Senate, but Gov. (Parris) Glendening, if he does what he has historically done, may veto it," Palmer said.
 
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