Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and John Boozman, R-Ark., introduced legislation Wednesday that would basically overrule a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service interpretation about what constitutes a “baited field.”
The USFW issued guidelines last month cautioning rice growers in Arkansas that many of their rolled fields would be off-limits to waterfowl hunting this season.
This year’s summer drought led to an early rice harvest in Arkansas. Heavy fall rains caused a rare secondary “ratoon” crop to sprout.
If rice heads emerged in those fields, the USFW guidelines state that any manipulation — such as rolling — would make it a “baited field” where waterfowl hunting would be illegal.
“The normal farming practice is they roll their crop after the harvest is done,” Pryor said. “Baiting a field was never their intent.”
Pryor took the issue to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar but was unable to reach an informal resolution. The legislation followed.
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