Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is currently in the process of trying to reach an agreement for increasing the license fees. Their original proposal showed a direct increase in 2022 with not only increases to the direct hunting and fishing license fees, but also increases in permits and stamps, as well as a few new stamps that would be required. There were three zoom sessions open to the public in March. Last week, MA F&W announced that “after consideration of public input” they were releasing an updated proposal. “In the new proposal, most increases will be phased in over 5 years, and fees for hunting permits and stamps are lower than originally proposed.” They also announced that they would be hosting another public hearing via Zoom on June 22, 23, and 24. Get more information and review the new proposal: mass.gov/masswildlife-funding
There is a lot that I could write about in regards to this topic. I sat in on the original public Zoom meetings and fully intend on listening to the next three. I have watched frequently on social media as people in the hunting community have argued over this amongst themselves calling each other names and telling each other that they have no valid arguments, regardless what side of the coin their opinions fall on. There have been numerous posts on this topic and even petitions to not raise the fees at all. There are people who complain that certain programs the state provides are not worth the money. My opinions about all this can wait for another time (there’s a long, opinionated post coming, don’t you worry!). What I want to talk about is the hunting community, and our seemingly muffled voice.
One of the biggest, most frequent complaints from hunters that I have seen on the post threads regarding license fees being increased has been the fact that in Massachusetts we are not allowed to hunt on Sundays. We are one of only two states with this law, Maine being the other. Sunday hunting in Massachusetts is prohibited by a Statute (also referred to as a General Law). MA F&W “has the authority to change hunting Regulations, which are referred to as CMRs but cannot approve regulations that contradict Statutes.” (Mass.gov) The only way to change a statute is for a bill to pass – either addressing the issue directly or by authorizing MA F&W to make the regulations.
Did you know that there are currently two bills in place lobbying for hunting on Sundays in Massachusetts? Bill H.1015, presented by William Straus, was filed on 02/09/21 with 3 petitioners. This bill, if passed, would authorize the hunting on Sundays in Massachusetts with use of bow and arrow. The House referred to the committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture 03/29/21 and the Senate Concurred. Bill H.1019 was filed on 01/28/21, presented by Alyson Sullivan, with 17 petitioners. This bill, if passed, would authorize deer hunting on Sundays in Massachusetts. The House referred to the committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture 03/29/121 and the Senate Concurred. https://malegislature.gov is a great resource if you want more information, including tracking the progress of these two bills.
Here’s where we, meaning the hunting community, need to get involved. These are changes that we want to see move forward, but we cannot just sit back and wait for someone else to act on this for us. We have to make our voices heard. Write letters, send emails, make calls, and above else get others to do the same. Both bills have been referred to this committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and you can easily obtain a list of the members on that committee which includes their contact information here. You can also track the progress of the process and attend any public hearings that may arise.
I challenge you and encourage you to write a letter, make a call, or send an email. Share your stories. Get personal. If we don’t rise up, plead our case, and make our voices heard, nothing will change. Bickering amongst ourselves, arguing over whose opinion is most valid, will only keep us stagnant.
We already have the skill of perseverance as hunters, it’s in our blood. Let’s put that to good use.