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Public Statements

Sportmen's Heritage Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

My amendment today maintains the State of Louisiana's ability to regulate hunting within its borders. In a decision announced March 1, 2012, the Forest Service Regional Forester located way over in Atlanta, Georgia, went over the heads of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to forever prohibit the use of dogs to hunt deer in Kisatchie National Forest.

Deer hunting has a long and important cultural history within the State of Louisiana. When French settlers first came to Louisiana in the 18th century, Louisiana was covered by thickets and dense timber. Most of these settlers had companion dogs with them, but the most treasured were the deerhounds. The use of dogs would help the hunter drive the deer out of the forest because deer were so plentiful and provided exciting races that provided sound nourishment.

Hunting in many forms has been for decades, and continues to be, a compatible activity on the 600,000-acre Kisatchie National Forest. Oddly enough, the Regional Forester does not prohibit the use of dogs for hunting raccoon, squirrel, rabbit, and game birds.

In 2011, the Kisatchie dog deer season was only 9 days and only applies to certain ranger districts. According to communication with the Forest Service, seven southern States allow hunting on national forests within their borders. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina; but in this case, not Louisiana. However, this is the first time the Forest Service has issued a ban on dog deer hunting, or hunting deer with dogs, within a specific State.

According to the Forest Service itself, they indicate that revenue generated on dog deer hunting, including expenses to care for dogs, contributes to approximately 18 to 29 direct jobs and results in roughly $890,000 to $1.4 million of income. By their own assessment, it is likely that some economic benefits will be lost depending on whether hunting with dogs for deer leave the area to pursue the sport elsewhere. Now this is about to kill even more jobs in Louisiana.

I would also like to emphasize that the State of Louisiana, the NRA, and the Safari Club all support my amendment; and I urge support of this amendment.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FLEMING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to respond to some of the statements that were made.

I received a petition of thousands of hunters from Louisiana and several States who wanted this to continue. The State, not the Federal Government, is in the best position to make this determination. By October 6, 2009, the Forest Service had received 1,237 responses to its 2009 request for comments. Of these, 320 agreed with the proposed prohibition, but 917 were against it. That's a 77 percent majority of these respondents who were actually from central Louisiana where this Kisatchie National Forest exists. During October 2011, the Forest Service received over 1,300 more comments on the original proposal and environmental analysis. All but five letters--all but five letters, Mr. Chairman--were opposed to the proposed prohibition.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FLEMING. I just want to respond, again, the people of Louisiana, the State of Louisiana has full support of doing away with this prohibition. This was a decision made by somebody in Atlanta, a Federal person, that has to do with what is really a local issue. This is a tradition that goes back 300 years, and I think it's pretty obvious that the people of Louisiana support the continuance of hunting deer with dogs.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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