McCain Amendments To Sportsmen's Act
Arizona Game And Fish Commission Votes Support
June 15, 2014
Amendments would enhance hunting and fishing opportunities in Arizona.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has voted unanimously to support two amendments proposed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014, to support hunting and sportfishing opportunities in Arizona and across the nation.
"Senator McCain continues to be a leading advocate for maintaining and strengthening the state's wildlife management authorities,” said Game and Fish Commission Chair J.W. Harris. “The commission's support of these two important amendments to the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act is a testament to the Senator’s passion for wildlife and commitment to Arizona sportsmen.”
An Expanding Bison Population
The amendments, filed yesterday, deal with National Parks Service wildlife management (including bison at Grand Canyon) and with fish hatcheries (including the Willow Beach hatchery) in the National Fish Hatchery System:
Grand Canyon Bison Amendment, S.A. 3240. Over the years, bison from the House Rock Wildlife Area on the Kaibab National Forest have migrated to Grand Canyon National Park, where bison numbers have grown to more than 300. Hunting is prohibited in the national park, which has become a safe haven for an expanding bison population that overgrazes and damages the park’s natural resources.
The National Park Service (NPS) during the past decade has had limited success removing the bison. Earlier this year, NPS, in collaboration with other agencies (including the Arizona Game and Fish Department), initiated an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with a public scoping process to develop a range of alternatives for managing bison at the park.
The amendment proposed by Senator McCain would allow the Secretary of the Interior to authorize highly regulated lethal removal of wildlife inside a national park where wildlife is causing habitat or cultural resource damage. Federal regulations make it difficult to convey ownership of the carcass to the hunter who harvests wildlife on NPS land. The amendment allows authorized volunteer hunters who harvest bison from Grand Canyon National Park to take ownership of the bison carcass.
Help To Fund Fish Hatcheries
National Fish Hatchery System Amendment, S.A. 3241. In Arizona, the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery may have to end its 50-year trout stocking mission along the Colorado River if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is unable to find funds within its budget to repair a broken water intake pipe. The hatchery was constructed in 1962 for the purpose of stocking trout to mitigate the impact of the Hoover Dam.
This amendment would require federal water agencies, such as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), to help fund certain fish hatcheries that are operated by the USFWS. A June 12 news release issued by Senator McCain’s office stated that, according to an independent audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), federal water agencies have been dodging their responsibility to transfer “reimbursement funds” to hatcheries that were constructed to mitigate the loss of fishery resources resulting from a federal dam. To address funding shortfalls, GAO recommended that Congress provide USFWS with “clear authority” to transfer reimbursement funds from its sister agencies.
In addition, the amendment would require that the Secretary of the Interior give equal priority consideration to the rearing and stocking of native and nonnative fish.
Hunting, Fishing Opportunities Enhanced
“These amendments enhance vital hunting and fishing opportunities in Arizona and the thousands of jobs they support,” said Senator McCain in a June 12 news release. “In Arizona, the North Kaibab bison hunt is one of the most coveted fair-chase hunting opportunities in the nation, and my first amendment would allow hunters to harvest and recover the full animal as a service to our National Parks. My second amendment would help address funding shortfalls faced by federal hatcheries that stock fish at some of our nation’s popular lakes and rivers.”
The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, which is co-sponsored by 41 senators including Senator McCain, is a package of legislative proposals aimed primarily at enhancing outdoor recreation on federal lands. In Arizona, about 786,000 hunters and anglers spend $1.2 billion annually and support 18,200 jobs in the state.