Last week, the National Rifle Association (NRA) cheered the reintroduction of a grab bag of measures related to guns and hunting, with the innocuous-sounding designation of a "Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015." While a good number of the provisions are benign, and a few even beneficial, there are several loaded grenades in the package that are inimical to the interest of wildlife, conservation, and our public lands. It contains special provisions for trophy hunters and commercial trappers, and, plainly stated, it's Congress at its worst, pandering to special interests and the one percent in order to gain some campaign cash and political support. It's got nothing to do with good governance or the public good.
The NRA claims the bill will defend hunting, the implication being that it is somehow under siege. But, of course, traditional fair chase hunting is not under threat – it's widely practiced and permitted in every state in the Union and already allowed on almost every inch of our national forests, Bureau of Land Management holdings, and even the vast majority of National Wildlife Refuges, not to mention all the state and private lands. This bill is really about the NRA's extremist agenda: legalizing the import of threatened species shot abroad, stopping any regulation of toxic ammunition, and creating a presumption that federal lands specifically designated as wilderness areas must be open to trophy hunting and commercial trapping regardless of the impacts on the environment, wildlife, or other land users.