Enhance Bowhunter Passage through National Park Service Lands

Pending introduction of legislation

From BMSA – “Despite increased access to public lands for rifle hunters, passage for bowhunters remains restricted through National Park Service (NPS) and National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) lands when accessing adjacent public hunting grounds. The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance is working to correct this discrepancy and improve reasonable access for all sportsmen and women.

Unfortunately, despite increased access to public lands for rifle hunters, passage for bowhunters remains restricted through National Park Service (NPS) and National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) lands when it comes to accessing adjacent public hunting grounds.

The Congressional passage of the Credit Card Act of 2009 [H.R. 627] included an amendment that would allow the carry of firearms in National Parks. Unfortunately, enhancing public access for bowhunters was overlooked by the rule-making of the National Park Service, which has maintained access restrictions on bowhunters who may want to access adjacent public lands open to hunting.

Due to the passage of the legislation and subsequent rule-making, rifle hunters may now access adjacent public lands open to hunting by passing through NPS and NWRS lands with their firearms. However, the NPS interpreted the statute in a way that prohibits the possession of bows because they are not classified as “firearms.” This interpretation maintains the restriction on bowhunters from passing through NPS and NWRS lands to access adjacent public lands, a standard that is no longer applied to hunters utilizing a rifle or muzzle loader.

Current NPS policy allows for a special permit to bowhunters crossing NPS lands where access is otherwise not practical. However, such permits are left to the discretion of the Park Superintendant and stand to limit public access.

The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance is working to address this discrepancy for bowhunters, and along with the Colorado Bowhunters Association, encouraged U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to address the issue. Senator Bennet and U.S. Representative Betsy Markey recently issued a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting that the same provisions extended to rifle hunters also be extended to bowhunters when crossing NPS lands. The letter encouraged the Department of Interior to use its rulemaking authority under the Administrative Procedures Act to consider allowing both traditional and compound hunting bows in NPS and NWRS lands without permit.”

Supportive Organizations: CBA

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