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Agricultural News

Quail Hunters Take Aim at Bill that Limits Wildlife Commission's Ability to Buy Land in Oklahoma

Wed, 13 Mar 2019 12:50:06 CDT

Quail Hunters Take Aim at Bill that Limits Wildlife Commission's Ability to Buy Land in Oklahoma Oklahoma State Senator and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee Casey Murdock of District 61 is under fire this week for the introduction of a bill that would limit how much land the Wildlife Conservation Commission can purchase. If passed, SB 703 would prevent the Commission from buying more land than they sell each year arguing that the Commission’s current practices are “an economic drag on rural Oklahoma.”

Murdock’s bill is supported by several stakeholder groups including the American Farmers and Ranchers, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, members of Oklahoma Wildlife Management Association, the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association and farmers and ranchers across the state. However, others have differing opinions and have subsequently expressed their concerns.

Oklahoman Quail Forever, on Wednesday, made a call to action to its membership instructing them to call their local state senator and advocate that they cast down this measure, scheduled for a vote this Thursday, March 14th.

A release by the organization outlined its reasons for opposing the bill, placing at the top of the list that all landowners are entitled to manage and protect their land as they see fit - including the use of agriculture, hunting, fishing and overall recreational use.

OQF contends that SB 703 “sets bad policy” and limits the Commission’s ability to improve outdoor access for all Oklahomans and in addition, diminishes the spirit of willing landowners to make the decision to participate in outdoor recreation.

The release also points out the only .77 percent of Oklahoma land is owned by the ODWC and argues that “having more public lands doesn’t mean that active management doesn’t take place,” but rather the opposite. Furthermore, it highlights the fact that ODWC is the only state agency to pay in lieu of taxes to the local community on properties it purchases and stimulates the local economies through indirect means, such as driving commerce to hotels, restaurants, etc. which is reportedly estimated at more than a $2.1 billion impact for the state.

Read a related story on the other side of the argument over SB 703, by clicking here.



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