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House bill increases hunter access to public lands

Fishing

House bill increases hunter access to public lands

A hunting bill passed by the House on Tuesday makes it harder to restrict hunting and fishing on public lands and ensures that the hunter’s arsenal will continue to include lead bullets

The legislation, which passed 274-146, also allows those who have legally hunted polar bears in Canada to bring their trophies home.

Republican sponsors said the bill, which faces an uncertain future in the Senate, protects sportsmen from bureaucratic restrictions. Democratic opponents said it was unneeded because 85 percent of federal land is open to hunting and called it a sop to the gun lobby.

The measure requires federal land managers to support hunting and fishing on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land. The BLM can only close public lands to recreational shooting for specific reasons such as national security and fire safety. It must also submit a report to Congress detailing the location and evidence justifying any closure.

The lead issue refers to efforts by environmentalists to ban the use of lead in ammunition and fishing tackle. They say lead poisoning kills 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals every year and that hunters who eat what they hunt have also been shown to have higher levels of lead in their bloodstreams.

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