By: Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith
Federal rules and regulations too often become seemingly insurmountable obstacles to simple changes that can have a positive impact. I introduced the Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans Act, specifically to challenge just such a situation.
Mississippians for the most part appreciate U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management of our wildlife refuges and other natural resources. But for all its good work, this federal agency hasn’t provided any good rationale for blocking a simple proposal: change the close of the federal duck season framework from “the last Sunday in January” to January 31.
For years, the Mississippi Flyway Council has requested that Fish and Wildlife approve this modest change, which would provide certainty in hunting schedules and prevent the loss of nearly a week during late hunting season depending on when the last Sunday in January falls on the calendar.
Duck hunters in Mississippi and around the country have waited long enough, which is why I introduced my bill (S.2942) to change the close of federal duck season. You wouldn’t think it would take an act of Congress to implement a reasonable proposal with multiple benefits for habitat conservation, the economy, and those who enjoy the sport of duck hunting.
The truth is that some of Mississippi’s greatest advocates for conservation and habitat protection are the sportsmen and hunters. Our state’s beautiful and abundant natural lands are enhanced, protected and paid for in large part by those who enjoy hunting. This creates economic growth in areas sometimes unsuitable for farming or manufacturing, provides valuable tourism investment, and protects these natural resources for future generations.
My bill is not another federal mandate. It is about states’ rights, and allowing states in the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways to set an annual deadline that best meets their needs.
If enacted, it would benefit duck populations and duck habitat nationwide as additional revenues generated from ammunition sales are sent to state wildlife agencies to support habitat conservation and hunter education programs. In addition, 98 cents of every additional dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps would be deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to protect and restore migratory bird habitats.
Beyond extending the duck hunting season, my legislation also sets aside the first weekend in February for duck hunting by youths, veterans, active duty members of the Armed Forces and National Guard. This is just one more way to show appreciation to those who defend our nation.
The bottom line is that, if enacted, S.2942 would only mean 10 additional days of duck hunting over the next five years as result of the addition of the first weekend of February hunting for veterans, members of the Armed Forces and youth.
A slight extension to the season is reasonable and one way to support hunting which, in addition to being a tradition in Mississippi, is a multi-billion dollar economic powerhouse for our state.
If the rulemaking bureaucrats in Washington aren’t moving, I’m more than ready for the Senate to act on this long-sought reform by sportsmen in Mississippi and around the country.