Conservation groups today praised the US House Committee on Natural Resources for passing a monumental piece of legislation with many benefits for outdoorsmen—including hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act seeks to improve public access to federal lands, guard against regulations that would ban or limit hunting or angling, and protect against laws would make traditional fishing equipment illegal. Previous versions of the bill failed in the last two sessions of Congress, but conservation groups are optimistic that the third attempt will bring success.
“Hunting and fishing are a part of our national heritage, and it is just common sense that they should be permitted by default on all federal lands. This bill protects the rights of sportsmen to access and enjoy the lands that are owned by all of us, and I am proud to see this bill move through the legislative process,” Congresman Dan Benishek (R-MI), who helped write the bill, said in a press release.
Organizations who supported the legislation included the US Sportsmen’s Alliance, Safari Club International, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, NRA, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Notably, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) opposed the bill, and its CEO, Wayne Pacelle, wrote a scathing blog post against the legislation.
“The [SHARE Act] is about many things, but it is not about helping the rank-and-file sportsman,” he wrote on his personal blog.
Pacelle claimed that the SHARE Act will only provide a “legislative gift bag to the trophy-hunting and trapping lobbies,” and perhaps more controversially, that it will prevent the US government from cracking down on international poaching.
“The bill has other terrible provisions to promote cruel commercial trapping on federal lands, to bar federal agencies from regulating toxic lead ammunition that poisons wildlife, and to grant bow hunters access to our national parks. The whole bill, with one ugly provision after another, is rotten to its core,” Pacelle continued.
The leaders of other conservation groups however, disputed the HSUS CEO’s claims. Supporters of the SHARE Act say the bill will work to protect wildlife through North America’s greatest and most avid conservationists: hunters and anglers.
“At a time when lack of access is one of the greatest barriers for hunter and angler recruitment and retention, we’re anxious to see a comprehensive and bipartisan sportsmen’s package advance to the President’s desk. Today’s action by the Natural Resources Committee is an important first step in that process,” Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said in a press release. “It is critical to support improvements to public access, while also working to strengthen our investment in conservation—because access means nothing without healthy fish, wildlife, and habitat.”
The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes a law however. Having passed the House committee, the SHARE Act now goes before the full House for consideration.
Image courtesy Bureau of Land Management