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News Room

CONSERVATION CORNER
June 5, 2006
Barbour Signs Sportsman's Legislation
by James L. Cummins

Last week, Governor Haley Barbour spent the afternoon away from the Capitol with members of the Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus to sign three pro sportsmen bills into law and celebrate Mississippi's hunting and fishing heritage with legislators in shooting rounds of sporting clays.

More than 20 legislators gathered around the Governor as he signed into law three bills, one providing for a "no net loss" of public hunting lands, one banning internet hunting and one creating an apprentice hunting program. This legislation was introduced and supported by the Mississippi Legislative Sportsman's Caucus.

According to Governor Barbour, "Mississippians love the outdoors and we want our children and grandchildren to have the opportunity to hunt, fish, boat, and come to love the outdoors just as we have."

"Mississippi is such a pro hunting state that forming a caucus to bring legislators together to promote pro hunting and fishing legislation was a natural thing. By acting now with such proactive laws, we are ensuring future generations of Mississippians and all those who travel here will be able to enjoy the same if not better opportunities in the future," commented Senator Stacey Pickering (R Laurel) who was a strong proponent of the Caucus and legislation.

Mississippi is the 28th in a national network of state legislative sportsmen's caucuses focused on promoting a pro sportsmen's agenda in the halls of state government. Although one of the newest sportsmen's caucuses in the country, it is already the largest. The Mississippi Sportsmen's Caucus is modeled after the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus in the U.S. Congress, of which Senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, Representatives Chip Pickering, Gene Taylor, Bennie Thompson and Roger Wicker are all members.

The "no net loss" of public hunting lands bill will guarantee that current public hunting lands remain open or are replaced with similar acreage if they are closed. Under the apprentice hunting license bill, youth hunters ages 12 to 16 will be allowed to take to the field under the supervision of a licensed adult prior to taking the hunter's safety course. The bill also creates an apprentice hunting license. "The apprentice hunting program we've created will make give more opportunities for hunters to take new people out into the field," stated Senator Lynn Posey (D Union Church), Co Chairman of the Mississippi Sportsmen's Caucus.

Mississippi is among dozens of states to ban internet hunting after a Texas rancher proposed the idea to shoot wildlife via the internet in 2004. "Internet hunting undermines the tradition of our outdoor heritage and ethics and the Caucus felt it was important to introduce and pass such proactive legislation to prevent erosion of our hunting values," continued Posey.


James L. Cummins is Executive Director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their web site is www.wildlifemiss.org.


 

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