WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held the hearing, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1514, the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation (HELP) for Wildlife Act.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We have considered much of this legislation before, and I have supported different iterations of ‘Sportsmen’s bills’ over the years. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about this year’s bill, the HELP for Wildlife Act.
“I recognize the important role that sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts play in our economies. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Delaware has 177,000 hunters and anglers who spend $150 million annually and support more than 1,800 jobs. Many of these sportsmen and women also invest their time and resources to promote habitat conservation, in part through programs that will be reauthorized through the HELP for Wildlife Act. Hunting is only one form of wildlife-related recreation. A 2011 census study showed that more than 340,000 people enjoyed wildlife-related recreation in Delaware, and 71 percent of them participated in wildlife-watching specifically. Year after year, people come to the First State to observe the federally threatened Red Knot shorebird, which stops along the Delaware Bay to refuel on horseshoe crab eggs along its amazing 9,000-mile migration journey.
“As we consider the HELP for Wildlife Act, we must carefully balance the different interests at play in wildlife preservation and recreation activities across the nation. This careful balance is especially difficult to strike when it comes to managing some of our country’s most charismatic species, including the gray wolf. As Ranking Member of this Committee, I have made clear my firm commitment to ensuring that wildlife management decisions are guided and driven by the best available science. The idea of intervening in the current science-based, publically informed species management process to legislatively delist a species gives me great pause. In the case of gray wolves, the Committee must consider the strong support across our nation for wolf protection and the critical role that wolves play in their ecosystems. We will hear from witnesses today on both sides of this complex issue, and I am especially interested in their perspectives on how to best manage this special species.
“I would be remiss if I did not mention the new provisions in this year’s bill to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act. I want to thank and applaud Senator Cardin for his leadership on these important sections of the HELP for Wildlife Act. As part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Delaware takes its responsibility to contribute to the Bay’s recovery and sustainability very seriously. I am particularly interested to hear what our witnesses have to say about how the Bay is doing. The Committee needs a full understanding of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s role in assisting state efforts to restore the Bay, and the role that the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network plays in advancing public understanding of and support for the Chesapeake restoration. Many thanks to each of our witnesses – who have traveled from near and far to share their important expertise with us today. Bring it on!”