Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Colorado bill would make sportsmen liable for land damage

This from Matt Kenna, the Colorado chair for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers:
A particularly damaging bill to the Division of Wildlife (DOW) and sportsmen, SB 24, has been introduced in the state Legislature, and will be taken up by the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday at 1:30 p.m.. This legislation would make Colorado sportsmen and women more liable for game damage to private landowners, potentially to the tune of $3.2 million more liable. And Colorado already has the most liberal game damage program in the country. SB24 would drain money away from important habitat protection and game management programs and put it into the hands of a few landowners.

Last year, sportsmen paid nearly $1 million for game damage claims, and an additional $600,000 for game damage prevention materials. Colorado’s sportsmen and women spend more money on game damage than any of the 10 state wildlife agencies that have similar programs, and 40 state wildlife agencies don’t pay anything for wildlife damages.

Daily Sentinel outdoors columnist Dave Buchanan says: “Senate Bill 024 would rewrite the rules on game damage payments, allowing a landowner to charge up to $2,500 trespass fees (it’s currently topped at $100) before becoming ineligible for game damage payments. I can’t think of many residents willing or able to pony up a couple Grover Clevelands for stepping across a fence to shoot an elk that ostensibly belongs to the public. It’s just another move toward making hunting a sport for the wealthy.” It doesn’t make sense that landowners should be able to “double dip” by both charging exorbitant access fees and receiving high damage claim payments from the state.

The Legislature’s Senate Agricultural Committee needs to hear from sportsmen and women on this issue (see email addresses and phone numbers for committee members below). Just write a short note explaining that you’re a hunter/angler and you oppose this legislation, then copy and paste it into an email and send to all of the Agricultural Committee members in one fell swoop. Or pick up the phone and make some calls.
Contact the Ag Committee members to voice your point of view:
Chair – Jim Isgar / / 303- 866-4884

Vice Chair- Gail Schwartz / / 303-866-4871

Dan Gibbs / dan.gibbs.senate@State.CO.US / 303-866-4873

Mary Hodge / / 303-866-4855

Ken Kester / / 303-866-4877

Greg Brophy / / 303-866-6360

Ted Harvey / / 303-866-4881
For more information and membership info on the Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, see here.
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