From a legislative standpoint 2020 is off to a fast start, as the United States Senate passed The America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act (S. 3051) on just their first week back in session for the new year. The ACE Act, strongly supported by Safari Club International, is a package of bills focused on wildlife conservation and hunting and several provisions are important to SCI members.
The ACE Act was introduced on December 13, 2019 by Senators John Barrasso (R – WY) and Tom Carper (D – DE). With strong bi-partisan support the ACE Act has moved quickly, having been voted out of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on December 17, 2019 before being passed on unanimous consent by the full Senate yesterday.
One the key objectives of the ACE Act is to address the threats posed by Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal disease effecting deer, elk, caribou and moose in 26 states and 4 Canadian provinces. The EPW Committee has hosted several hearings focused on CWD, most recently in December when they discussed formation of a CWD Task Force in conjunction with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The ACE Act formally establishes that Task Force, an important step for improving CWD research and enhancing critical partnerships focused on combatting the spread of CWD.
Also included in the legislative package is the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act, which will provide state fish and wildlife agencies with financial flexibility to bolster their marketing plans and expand access to learn-to-hunt programs. Created in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson fund for wildlife conservation is supported by excise taxes on guns and gear purchased by hunters. This legislation directs a portion of that money towards hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation programs to address the decline in hunting participation across the United States.
“The Senate unanimously approved legislation that will improve species conservation, protect and restore ecosystems and ensure outdoor recreation opportunities abound for generations to come,” said Senator Carper. “The ACE Act advances new initiatives to address the growing threats of invasive species and wildlife disease. And while creating new and innovative programs, the ACE Act will also ensure that existing wildlife and habitat conservation programs can continue to build on their demonstrated history of success.”
“The Senate has taken important bipartisan action to protect our wildlife,” said Senator Barrasso. “Our bipartisan legislation will establish a special task force to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease… The United States Senate is hard at work passing legislation for the American people. Now, the House of Representatives must pass the bill so we can better conserve and manage America’s wildlife.”
Safari Club International has actively supported the ACE Act since its introduction and applauds the Senate’s swift approval of the bill. SCI recently signed a coalition letter supporting passage of the ACE Act sponsored by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners. SCI will continue to work with our partners to ensure that this important legislation passes the House of Representatives as well.
“Hunting and wildlife conservation are bipartisan issues. In the new year, it is refreshing to see differences set aside to promote this legislation. SCI commends Senator Barrasso and Senator Carper for their leadership in protecting our nation’s wild places and wild things” said SCI’s Director of Government Affairs, Ben Cassidy.