The NRAand other NGOs sent the following letter urging governors and local officials to keep hunting seasons open this spring, barring localized situations. With the fight against COVID-19 still in full effect, hunting can provide an effective form of social distancing, while positively contributing to a feeling of normalcy among those Americans with a passion for the outdoors.
Our hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor recreation organizations are writing to offer our help and ideas for maintaining safe and appropriate access to nature during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the entire country, we are concerned, careful, and committed to effective responses to the COVID-19 virus in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. We deeply appreciate your current burden of leadership and efforts to find and implement solutions medically, economically, and socially. Our organizations will help however possible and hope for good health for you and your communities.
The outdoors is where we are most able to help. At parks, wildlife management areas, lakes, and other places, we ask for your consideration in keeping managed-use facilities, boat launches, hunting and fishing areas, and viewing areas open to the general public. Barring localized situations that may justify closures, we urge a general policy of maintaining open access which will help families through this challenging time. Nature is an ideal place to keep safe distances among people while simultaneously allowing citizens educational and recreational experiences that provide health, and hope. Now, more than ever, Americans need to have the ability to access these lands for a variety of reasons, including hunting and fishing to provide food for their families.
In particular, please consider maintaining the openness of opportunities for the hunting of spring turkey and bear, and other in-season species, as well as fishing and recreational shooting opportunities that are timely right now. The spring hunting season is upon us, and if your state’s wildlife management areas and other public lands remain open, this will provide an opportunity for the solitary and safe pursuit of hunting. Fishing also keeps people at a safe distance apart and can help sustain the economy if tackle shops remain open as essential businesses. Several states have temporarily waived fishing license requirements (but not limits), or withheld trout stocking announcements (which attract crowds), or opened seasons early (to reduce risk of crowding). Recreational shooters are practicing social distancing at ranges that remain open and also play a strong economic role by generating the federal excise tax revenue that drives the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).
In recent weeks, many of our organizations have communicated with our members, as well as federal and state policy makers, to encourage safe social distancing practices while enjoying the outdoors. As such, a social media campaign known as #ResponsibleRecreation is underway to encourage the public to act responsibly as they enjoy the outdoors. Similarly, we can support your efforts through our webpages and social media channels by distributing information on available points of access and guidance on safety.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter and diligence in facing the crisis.
American Sportfishing Association American Woodcock Society Archery Trade Association Bass Anglers Sportsman Society Boone and Crockett Club California Waterfowl Campfire Club of America Center for Sportfishing Policy Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Conservation Force Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports Dallas Safari Club Delta Waterfowl Foundation Ducks Unlimited Fishing League Worldwide Houston Safari Club International Game Fish Association Izaak Walton League of America Marine Retailers Association of the Americas Masters of Foxhounds Association Mule Deer Foundation National Association of Charterboat Operators National Association of Forest Service Retirees National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative National Marine Manufacturers Association National Professional Anglers Association National Rifle Association National Shooting Sports Foundation National Wildlife Federation National Wild Turkey Federation North American Grouse Partnership North American Falconers Association Orion–The Hunter’s Institute Pheasants Forever, Inc. Pope and Young Club Professional Guides and Outfitters Association Quail Forever Quality Deer Management Association Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Ruffed Grouse Society Safari Club International Sportsmen’s Alliance Texas Wildlife Association Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Tread Lightly! Trout Unlimited Whitetails Unlimited Wild Sheep Foundation Wildlife Forever Wildlife Management Institute Wildlife Mississippi