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Outdoors

James Drake

A few days ago, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service sent me a list of more than two dozen new legislative proposals pending before this year’s General Assembly.

They all related to fishing, a lot of the individual bills deal with housekeeping matters such as effective dates of new regulations and many more only concerned the commercial fishery.

For example, HB 184 provides for a $1 credit against a commercial fisherman’s Maryland income tax for each bushel of oyster shells recycled during the taxable year. $750 would be the yearly limit.

SB 464 would require a shellfish nursery permit for land-based and in-water shellfish nursery operations.

However, HB 505 should interest a lot of people.

This bill, if enacted, would limit the information the DNR may require from an applicant for a hunting, fishing, boat manufacturer’s or dealer’s license.

According to the proposal, “These types of applications may not require the license applicant to disclose their full Social Security number and record that number on the application. The department can only require the applicant to disclose the last four digits of their Social Security number.”

Hallelujah. I sure hope this one passes.

Just a week or two ago, I received an email from a reader asking about this very issue. I contacted Maryland’s DNR and asked about their requirement for hunters and fishermen to provide their full Social Security number on license applications. I received back a reply that it was a necessary part of the application process and federal law gave each state the right to require it.

Apparently, the politicians in Annapolis don’t all agree with that opinion.

Your Social Security number is a key piece of personal information that thieves would love to have. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.

If a criminal can get your Social Security number, and then maybe another piece of vital information such as a driver’s license number or a bank account number, they pretty much have the keys necessary to start your financial ruin.

Besides that, an existing Social Security number in the wrong hands can lead to criminal identity theft, government identity theft and even medical identity theft.

Unless they’re maybe guilty of gross stupidity or flagrant carelessness, the victim can be totally innocent and face years of starting all over from scratch after somebody stole their identity.

I’m all for HB 505 and hope it is approved.

Just think about this: Let’s say you buy your fishing/hunting licenses at the little country store down the road. You write down your Social Security number on the form as required, and “Bubba” behind the counter, who just got an early release from prison, hands that number over to one of the associates he met while confined to the big government hotel with all that razor wire around it.

No, I don’t think we should have to provide this number to obtain a hunting or fishing license.

Another proposed legislation, SB 525, is a bill I do not support.

SB 525 would apply a $10 surcharge to specified angler’s licenses, including recreational fishing licenses, and the money would be credited to the Sustainable Fisheries Enforcement Fund to finance specified enforcement activities of the Natural Resources Police.

I know of people moving out of Maryland because of our high taxes. We don’t need another surcharge.

O’Malley’s waterfowl message

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) kicked off yet another pro/anti-gun controversy last week when he sent a message to Maryland hunters.

According to The Outdoor Wire, O’Malley accessed the state’s records of hunters who purchased their hunting licenses on the DNR website, and last week, he sent them all an email about the state’s Junior Waterfowl Hunting Day that was held last Saturday.

I don’t see anything wrong with wishing our young hunters good luck and a safe hunt, but then O’Malley went on to “take the opportunity to address you directly about the proposal we recently introduced to reduce gun violence.”

Said The Outdoor Wire, “As angry as Maryland firearms owners appear to be at this point, it seems Gov. O’Malley might want to save some of that luck for himself when explaining why he used a confidential database to send a message advocating for his gun control legislation.”

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) also came under fire, excuse the pun, when he recently told Maryland county officials that some gun manufacturers build their sales models “on an assumption that at least 20 percent of the weapons will get sold illegally.”

CNSNews then asked Sarbanes for the source of that comment, but they have yet to receive a response. However, the National Shooting Sports Foundation did comment.

“Congressman Sarbanes’ outrageous statement alleging that responsible, law-abiding members of the firearms industry anticipate and calculate into their business plans that 20 percent or more of their products will be illegally sold is highly offensive,” said Larry Keane, NSSF senior executive and chief counsel, who went on to call the allegation “absurd on its face and patently false.”

The NSSF is demanding that Sarbanes either provide the factual basis for his claim or apologize.

I’d recommend they don’t bet any real money on getting either.

Another bad proposal

In Maine, an elected representative introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of all rubber lures.

The bill doesn’t define “rubber,” but if passed, this legislation could easily ban all soft baits that are so popular with fishermen today.

Nationally, many fishing groups are fighting this proposal. For one, KeepAmericaFishing officials released a statement noting that it is not aware of any study of fish in the wild regarding problems with soft baits and that research experience has instead found that fish either regurgitate or pass the soft baits they ingest.

The American Sportfishing Association is urging Maine legislators to reject this proposed legislation and instead allow the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to conduct appropriate tests to see if there is actually any real problem with soft baits used by fishermen.

Notes

On Feb. 12, Lake Artemesia and Greenbelt Lake in Prince George’s County, along with Hutchins Pond in Calvert County, received a preseason stocking of trout.

Today through Sunday, the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sports Show is happening at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. For more information, go to sportshows.com/philly.

At 7 p.m. Monday, Coastal Conservation Association Maryland will hold a meeting at Stoney’s Kingfisher in Solomons. The main topic will be locating and catching yellow perch. The meeting is open and free to the public. For more information, go to www.ccamd.org.

zbasser@aol.com