WILDLIFE FEEDING BILL SET FOR HEARING BEFORE HOUSE AG COMMITTEE
Members of the Federation's State Wildlife Committee and other wildlife enthusiasts are expected to testify before the House Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday during a 1:30 p.m. hearing. The hearing on HB 518 will be in the Star Wars room of the State House.
The Federation's State Wildlife Committee has endorsed the legislation. Twenty-six other states, including all of Alabama's neighbors, allow supplemental feeding during hunting season. The Senate bill, SB 49, was sponsored by Sen. Myron Penn, D-Union Springs, and has been approved by the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.
Its companion bill, HB 518, is sponsored by Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. It is assigned to the House Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Committee which has scheduled the hearing for Wednesday.
The bill requires that supplemental feeding be a part of an overall deer management plan, that feeders be placed within 200 yards of a green field and that feeders be placed at least 100 yards from the hunter and out of the line of his sight. It also provides penalties for violators which range from $300 to $500 upon conviction. The bill requires that male whitetail deer harvested under the feeding program must have at least three one-inch points above the hairline on one side.
The Alabama Wildlife Federation is opposing the bill, claiming, among other things, that it encourages the transmission of diseases among whitetail deer. However, resolutions passed by the AWF board supports supplemental feeding of deer so long as it doesn't include hunting over bait.
The Alabama Rifle and Pistol Association, the Alabama affiliate of the National Rifle Association, also opposes the bill, according to the organization's State Vice President James Porter. He said the bill removes the "fair chase" aspect of hunting. Porter said he doesn't know if the organization has a formal policy opposing such legislation, but added that the group doesn't have a problem with hunting over green fields, which he called "a naturally occurring phenomenon."
Federation Wildlife Division Director Steve Guy encouraged those who favor the bill to attend the hearing. He said expert testimony in favor of the bill will be presented during the hearing.
Guy also encouraged Federation members in favor of the bill to contact the members of the House Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation Committee. They are: Chairman Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville; Vice Chairman John Robinson, D-Scottsboro; Greg Albritton, R-Excel; Billy Beasley, D-Clayton; Warren Beck, R-Geneva; Lucius Black, D-York; Joe Carothers, D-Dothan; Tommy Carter, D-Elkmont; Spencer Collier, R-Irvington; Rusty Glover, R-Semmes; Micky Hammon, R-Decatur; Allen Layson, D-Reform; Yusuf Salaam, D-Selma; Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro; and Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. They can be reached at the State House at 334-242-7600.