To prevent continued procedural abuses by a government body involved in crafting hunting policy, the NRA has petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) to establish and publish rules for the way its Wildlife Resources Committee (WRC) conducts business. The Safari Club International and the National Shooting Sports Foundation also have submitted letters expressing concern about the issues raised in the NRA’s Petition.
Anti-hunting groups have obtained unprecedented access to certain sympathetic state Fish and Game Commissioners and staffers through the recently created WRC. The WRC replaced the Al Taucher Committee, which had for years provided a forum for hunters to meaningfully participate as stakeholders in the regulatory process. The CFGC characterizes the WRC as a “forum” for public comment, and a “workshop” for discussing regulatory matters that will eventually go before the Fish and Game Commission. But the WRC has instead limited the opportunity for input from hunting stakeholder groups and operated as a platform for anti-hunting activists, giving them a regulatory foothold to promote their radical and unbalanced approach to wildlife management that could eventually make most game hunting unsustainable in California.
One of the major goals of the anti-hunting extremists is to change the focus of the CFGC’s activities from regulating hunting as a wildlife management tool to restricting public use of natural resources to only “non-consumptive” uses (translation: no hunting). These efforts are being promoted by groups that want to allow all predator species populations to increase unchecked, at the expense of game species and without regard for a balanced approach that would keep hunting sustainable.
When the WRC held their inaugural meeting in June of 2013, there was little public notice of what was to be discussed. A subcommittee stacked with anti-hunting activists was formed, giving anti-hunting groups the opportunity to submit a regulatory “wishlist” to a subset of the CFGC without meaningful participation from hunting stakeholder groups. It is insulting that no hunters or hunting association representatives were put on this subcommittee.
The WRC currently has no procedural rules and this invites abuses of its functions. Without procedural rules, there is no way for people to know if the WRC is being used to “piecemeal” the CFGC’s meeting agendas, and there is no way for the public to know if the CFGC is going to restrict public comment on controversial issues (after the fact) to WRC meetings only. It is still unclear whether the CFGC plans to provide substantial review of any “recommendations” that come from the WRC.
The WRC is currently made up of two Fish & Game Commissioners. But Commissioner Sutton, who has many sportsmen concerned because of anti-hunting views that he has exhibited in the past, is now trying to create an unnecessary exception that allows him to sit on the WRC as a voting “alternate” member. The WRC is not required to hold meetings at all, nor is it required to have even one WRC Committee member at meetings. So there is no reason for an alternate “member” position to be created. But without rules, there’s nothing to stop it. There are serious concerns that Commissioner Sutton is attempting to join the WRC so that he can control the agenda!
If the CFGC does not resolve the imbalances and bias that plagues the WRC, the NRA is prepared to take legal action to ensure that the anti-hunter agenda does not override common sense and a balanced wildlife management approach. The NRA and other hunters’ stakeholder groups have put the CFGC on notice of multiple procedural and substantive problems with the way the WRC currently operates.
The next Fish and Game Commission meeting will take place on October 8 in Mount Shasta. Their meeting agenda is available here.