Several U.S. Senators recently introduced Senate Bill 1522, the Hunting Heritage Protection Act, that would effectively establish a right to hunt and trap on federal lands in much the same way that many states have amended their constitutions to guarantee similar rights to hunting and trapping in those states.
The goal of the bill is to place obstacles in the way of removing federal lands for public hunting. For example, the bill would establish that agencies would have to report to Congress when they plan to forbid large tracts of land from being recreationally hunted,
The withdrawal, change of classification, or change of management status that effectively closes 5,000 or more acres of Federal public land to access or use for recreational hunting shall take effect only if, before the date of withdrawal or change, the agency head that has jurisdiction over the Federal public land submits to the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate written notice of the withdrawal or change.
Additionally, the bill would require annual reports from federal agencies on all actions they’ve taken during the year that impact recreational hunting.
The bill would also direct federal agencies to,
. . . manage Federal public land under the jurisdiction of the agency head in a manner that supports, promotes, and enhances recreational hunting opportunities . . .
That sort of language would open up restrictions on hunting to challenge in federal courts in much the same way that animal rights activists have used similar provisions that protect marine wildlife to challenge activities such as whale hunting by the Makah.
The bill does make a major exemption of all land that is under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Interior, which includes national parks and national monuments, but might be interpreted to make it more difficult to transfer lands to the Secretary of Interior if the lands would thereby become off-limits to recreational hunters.
The full text of Senate Bill 1522 can be read here.
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