LOUISIANA WATERFOWL ALLIANCE
428 Hickory Hill Dr.
Boyce, LA 71409
15 June 2015
Honorable David Vitter
United States Senate
516 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Dear Senator Vitter:
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 subject 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. Rather than include a detailed analysis in this letter, we have enclosed an explanation and discussion that outlines our concerns and suggests an alternative approach to achieving fair practice and enforcement. We hope you will take a few moments to review it.
As an alternative to legislation, it is our view that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should be tasked with a thorough review of the baiting regulations and promulgation of any rules deemed necessary 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. Such a process would include 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.
Thank you for your kind attention. Please feel welcome to contact us with any questions.
Jay V. Huner, PhD, Secretary
Louisiana Waterfowl Alliance
on behalf of the LWA Board of Directors
*Footnote: This letter was also sent to U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy