By Ivan Schell, Esquire
2021: 2nd Quarter
Interior Secretary: President Biden made history by nominating Representative Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior. Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo from New Mexico, is the first Native American nominated to the post. She cleared a key committee vote on March 4, 11 to 9 with Lisa Murkowski as the sole Republican vote. Murkowski was under serious pressure to vote for Haaland because 20% of Alaska’s population is Native American. The dispute over this appointment centers around oil and environmental initiatives of the Biden Administration. Of the several reports I have reviewed, I have not seen any comments from the nominee regarding hunting on public land which was dramatically expanded during the Trump administration. Given the historical connection of Native Americans to hunting, it is not a foregone conclusion that she would follow the liberal bent of anti‐hunting groups.
Grizzly Bears: In December, the US District Court in Montana ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear challenges by the Center for Biodiversity to rulings by US Fish and Wildlife under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Endangered Species Act, (ESA). First, the Court found that the plaintiff’s petition to force an update to the grizzly recovery plan does not meet the definition of a “rule”, i.e. a final agency action, so the federal court had no jurisdiction to address the plaintiff’s demand for an update. Second, the Court found that the ESA does not require the Service to update its recovery plan based on the best available scientific information. In other words, the Service’s management of bears has withstood another challenge from anti‐hunters.
HB 209: This Bill would amend KRS 217.217 to allow the donation of game meat to a cooperative extension agency (i.e. the University of KY and the Kentucky State University extension programs) to be added to the not for profit organizations which can receive wild game meat without interference by county health departments. The legislation passed the third reading in the house 36‐0, and the bill was forwarded to the Governor’s desk for signature where it was signed into law. This is another enhancement to the Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry program initiated by Kentuckiana SCI.
Coyotes: As reported previously Kentucky now allows the use of rifles of 6.5 Creedmore or smaller to hunt coyotes on private land at night from December 1 thru March 31. It is not clear whether this means that any 6.5 cartridge can be used or only a 6.5 with equal or less velocity or foot‐pounds of energy than a Creedmore. In addition, of course shotguns can be used at night on public land from December 1 thru May 31. Lights can be used but not if they are attached to a vehicle.
Waterfowl: One scaup can now be taken beginning Thanksgiving Day for four consecutive days and December 7 thru December 17. In addition, two scaup can be taken beginning December 18 thru January 31. Also, in the Ballard Zone, a hunter can now have more than one shotgun in the blind, as long as the additional gun(s) are cased and unloaded.
Muzzleloaders: In the most recent issue, we reported that Indiana proposed the use of muzzleloaders which use the “firestick” technology. This allows the loading of powder from the breech, as long as the bullet is loaded from the muzzle. The final rule on this proposal was voted on by the Natural Resources Commission on March 16. The final rule on this proposal adopted by the Natural Resources Commission on March 16 allows the use of the firestick technology only during a season where that modern firearms can be used. Muzzleloaders used during the muzzleloader season must still be loaded with both powder and bullet from the muzzle.