For Immediate Release
May 09, 2023
BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA—Delta Waterfowl applauds Maryland Governor Wes Moore’s signing of a bipartisan, bicameral, pro-hunting omnibus (Senate Bill 327/House Bill 983).
“This is a big win for hunting, conservation, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and it represents more than a year’s worth of input and effort on behalf of duck hunters,” said Delta’s senior director of government affairs Cyrus Baird, who served as a key voice for duck hunters in Annapolis through written and oral testimony in both legislative chambers, and through strategic meetings with partners and lawmakers. “This legislation will allow the DNR to take revolutionary steps to benefit ducks and duck hunters, including objectives it’s had in mind for a long time but lacked the financial and staffing resources to make a reality.”
Baird represented Delta Waterfowl at the signing ceremony in Annapolis on May 8, 2023.
The law authorizes the Maryland DNR to increase license fees for resident hunters by $9.50 and for nonresidents by $20 to $30—the first such increases since 1989—while also raising the price of state migratory game bird stamps (a.k.a. state duck stamps) by $6. The added revenue will provide historic funding levels for vast conservation enhancements—including to habitats that attract and support migrating waterfowl—and improvements to infrastructures that provide access to quality waterfowl hunting.
Further, the law includes a robust R3 mechanism to enhance the state’s ability to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters. Most notably, the legislation establishes the Wildlife Conservation, Education, and Outreach Program, which will provide hunting and conservation education at the elementary and middle school levels in underserved and underrepresented communities. The law also allows non-resident hunters attending a college or university within Maryland to pay the resident rate.
“It’s one of the most comprehensive hunter recruitment bills ever written,” Baird said. “It codifies into law that Maryland will use some of the money to educate young people about hunting, including how to hunt as well as hunting’s critical role in conservation. The DNR will be able to reach kids who may like to give hunting a try but would otherwise have never been exposed to it or even decided to one day oppose hunting.”
Delta Waterfowl’s work in Maryland, however, remains incomplete. A key legislative priority originally contained in the omnibus—a provision of the legislation to open opportunities for waterfowler hunting on Sundays—was struck down during the latter stages of house proceedings.
“It’s disappointing because we came very close, but we’re not giving up,” Baird said. “Delta Waterfowl won’t stop fighting until Maryland waterfowlers can enjoy Sundays in the duck blind—something more than 70 percent of Maryland waterfowlers support.”
Delta Waterfowl would additionally like to thank Sen. Bailey (R-District 29), Delegate Nick Allen (D-District 8), and Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-District 30) for their leadership in support of waterfowl conservation and hunting in Maryland.
Key comments from the Director of Maryland DNR – Wildlife and Heritage Service include:
- “This is the most significant and impactful legislation in modern history,” said Director Peditto. “The programmatic initiatives and funding built into this bill will allow us to bring about real on-the-ground change for wildlife and the people who appreciate our diverse natural resources in Maryland.”
Key comments from the legislation’s cosponsors include:
- “This legislation provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand wildlife conservation and recreational hunting opportunities across Maryland,” said Senator Elfreth. “In passing this legislation, Maryland will continue to be a nationwide leader in the R3 and conservation movement – and I am so appreciative to our partners at Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and so many others for helping to pass this bill.”
- “This bill will give more access and opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen to engage in outdoor recreation and provides protections against liability for landowners who allow hunters to use their property,” said Senator Bailey. “I am proud to have supported this important legislation to increase hunting opportunities in Maryland.”
- “I just want to thank everyone on our incredible team for all their hard work—especially Senators Elfreth and Bailey, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources,” said Delegate Allen. “I’m extremely proud to have played a small role in expanding these wildlife conservation, outreach, and hunting opportunities for Marylanders, especially those in underserved communities. I look forward to continuing to work with this awesome coalition in the future.”
For more information, contact Cyrus Baird at (703) 254-6737 or email@example.com.
Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.