Politics & Government

Roger Wicker votes for wildlife bill favored by environmental, hunting groups

An adult great blue herons lands at its nest in a tree in Gulfport where several pairs of the birds were nesting in June 2015.
An adult great blue herons lands at its nest in a tree in Gulfport where several pairs of the birds were nesting in June 2015. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

Sen. Roger Wicker on Wednesday voted to advance a bill backed by a long list of environmental advocacy groups.

Wicker voted with 14 others on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to approve the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation for Wildlife Act. Seven senators voted no on the bill.

The bill would expand support for the conservation of wetlands, encourage public-private partnerships to conserve fishing habitats and fund the construction of public target ranges. The bill also provides regulatory clarity for sportsmen, Wicker’s office said in a press release.

“We are blessed with beautiful and bountiful natural resources,” Wicker said. “This bill would put sensible policies in place to protect these resources, ensuring that our wetlands and fishing habitats can be enjoyed by future generations of hunters, fishers and wildlife enthusiasts.

“Our sportsmen would benefit from more public target ranges and updated federal policies on common hunting and fishing practices.”

The bill, which heads to the full Senate, would:

▪ Extend authorization and appropriations for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act through Fiscal Year 2022.

▪ Reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act through FY2022.

▪ Finalize partnerships among public agencies and other interested parties for promoting fish conservation.

▪ Facilitate the construction and expansion of public target ranges by allowing more funding flexibility for state and federal agencies.

▪ Prevent farmers from being held liable for bird baiting for hunting purposes if they adhere to USDA and state agricultural best practices.

▪ Protect sport fishing equipment from unnecessary regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Groups that support the bill include the Coastal Conservation Association, B.A.S.S., National Wildlife Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wildlife Refuge Association and 45 others.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

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