428 Hickory Hill Dr.
Boyce, LA 71409

15 June 2015

Dan Ashe, Director
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Main Interior Building
1849 C Street NW
Room 3331
Washington, DC 20240-0001

Dear Director Ashe:

We are writing in regard to legislation proposing to refine the understanding of what constitutes “normal agricultural practices” within the context of exceptions (exclusions) to the prohibition of taking migratory birds over a baited field that are contained in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The legislation includes the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S. 405; S. 659) and the Hunter and Farmer Protection Act (S. 595; H.R. 1099).

Our concern is that expanding the interpretation of “normal agricultural practices” as the legislation proposes could harm waterfowl and waterfowl hunters. Although we agree that neither farmers nor hunters should be penalized for providing habitat for waterfowl within a normal regime of crop production, the exceptions described in the proposed legislation provide loopholes for abuse. Enclosed is an explanation and discussion that outlines our concerns and suggests an alternative approach to achieving fair practice and enforcement.

It is our view that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) should undertake a thorough review of the baiting regulations and promulgate any adjustments to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings that may have in recent years penalized and disadvantaged honest, law-abiding hunters and farmers who unintentionally were confronted with a baiting situation on their anticipated hunting areas. The rulemaking process entails ample opportunity for public input that we believe is superior to the legislative process and more likely to achieve precision in addressing any problems, while minimizing unintended consequences. We have notified Louisiana Senators Vitter and Cassidy of our concern and have urged them to support review and rulemaking by FWS as an alternative to the proposed legislation. We hope you agree and stand ready to work with you and FWS to achieve such an outcome.

Yours in conservation,

Jay V. Huner, PhD, Secretary
Louisiana Waterfowl Alliance
on behalf of the LWA Board of Directors


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