Young Makes It Clear: Field Trials are OK on Pittman-Roberson Conservation Lands

Young Makes It Clear: Field Trials are OK on Pittman-Roberson Conservation Lands

By: Patti Strand  Date: 01/13/2012 Category: | Wildlife Journal |

Alaska Representative Don Young made it plain: canine field trials are a legitimate use of conservation funds. Young made his remarks when Congress debated the final form of HR3671, the bill to tighten administration of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supported by taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.

"It is important to reiterate that lands acquired with Pittman-Robertson funds are used for an array of wildlife dependent recreation activities such as fishing, trapping and hunting," Young told his colleagues. "This use properly includes field trials with dogs."

At issue is tens of millions of dollars collected from sportsmen and sent to the states to fund conservation projects. Guidelines for use of the money are set by Congress and implemented by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Animal rights and environmental activists have pressured federal and state governments to disallow these activities as incompatible with conservation, and the USFWS has threatened to withhold money from states that allow hunt trials on state-owned lands.

When a government investigation confirmed reports of misuse of the P-R funds, Young introduced his bill to eliminate a slush fund, tighten grant guidelines so that anti-hunting projects do not qualify, and limit the expenditures for administration of the funds. The American Kennel Club and many sportsmen's groups asked Young to make sure that field trials would be considered a legitimate use of lands paid for by distribution of P-R money.

Young agreed. Although field trials are not specifically mentioned in the bill, his remarks were included in the committee report to tell USFWS that he considers them as valid activities on conservation lands.

"We expect that these activities will continue on acquired lands subject to reasonable restrictions supported by evidence to conserve wildlife and related habitat," he said. "Any guidelines issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding such uses must be reasonable, recognize the value of these activities, and be developed cooperatively with the states as well as affected user groups. Some elements within the Service appear to believe that intensive on-the-ground management actions are inconsistent with the purpose of Pittman Robertson Act conservation programs. The Committee strongly disagrees with any such conclusion. We remind the agency that intensive management is often the key to assuring that multiplicity of wildlife dependent recreation activities can coexist on wildlife lands and can occur with conservation objectives and purposes. This is the case with field trials. So I want no one to mistake that field trials are quite compatible on lands acquired using Pittman Robertson funds. The lands are for hunting, and field trials facilitate hunting."

Young said that if USFWS does not abide by his intent to allow field trials, he will introduce a bill next year to accomplish the goal. AKC said it will contact Young if field trials are challenged as a lawful use of these lands.

About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…

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