So-Called 'Bear Protection Bill' Exposed By Outdoors Community

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So-Called 'Bear Protection Bill' Exposed By Outdoors Community, Congressman and FWS

3/18/08

Washington, DC- At the urging of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, a letter signed by twenty-two organizations representing millions of sportsmen was sent to Rep. Nick Rahall, Chairman and Rep. Don Young, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, strongly opposing HR5534, the supposed 'Bear Protection Act of 2008'. The letter, which was introduced into a hearing this week by former Caucus Chairman, Don Young (R-AK), requested that the committee oppose the bill and give no further legislative attention to it.

HR5534 would amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to extend its protections to bears illegally harvested for their viscera in the same manner as with respect to prohibited wildlife species, and for other purposes. The sportsmen's groups that signed on to the letter believe that any trade in bear viscera (gall bladders and bile) is already subject to prosecution under the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act provides that it is unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law whether in interstate or foreign commerce.

The stated purpose of HR5534 is 'to ensure the long-term viability of the world's 8 bear species by reinforcing State conservation and management of bear populations.' The allied sportsmen's groups believe that this bill is a veiled attempt to reduce hunting opportunities for a robust black bear population by overburdening enforcement agencies with new layers of regulations that would strain wildlife management budgets and by causing a public outcry against regulated, science-based bear hunting.

One such inflammatory campaign, driven by the Humane Society of the United States claims, 'Wild American bears and highly endangered Asian bears are slaughtered for their gallbladders and bile, which are consumed domestically or exported illegally as traditional folk remedies. As wild bear populations are eradicated in other parts of the world, poachers intensify their targeting of wild bears in the United States.' In fact, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is actively engaged in the enforcement of existing laws that address the black-market trade in bear viscera.

The letter, while acknowledging that some illegal harvest occurs, stresses that the bill is unnecessary because state and federal law enforcement agencies are adequately addressing the domestic issue of poaching on state and federal levels.

During a subcommittee hearing, Benito Perez, head of law enforcement for the Fish and Wildlife Service stated that HR5534 would be "largely duplicative" of existing authority.

'This is another example of the animal rights extremists wasting Congressional time on a piece of legislation that will do nothing but undermine the states authority to manage their wildlife resources,' stated Rep. Young.

About the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF)

The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation is the most respected and trusted proponent for hunters and fishermen in the political arena. With support from every major hunting and fishing organization, CSF is the leader in promoting sportsmen's issues with elected officials. CSF works directly with the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus in the U.S. Congress, as well as affiliated state sportsmen's caucuses in state legislatures around the country. For additional information, visit www.sportsmenslink.org or call 202-543-6850.


Media Contact:
Allan Ellis, Director of Communications (202) 543-6850 extension 19 or allan@sportsmenslink.org
 


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