Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is proposing a "Hunting and Fishing Bill of Rights" that calls for new federal incentives to encourage private landowners to let folks hunt and fish on their land.
"We’re trying to provide access. We’re trying to respect people’s private property rights, but basically what’s being done in these programs is private land owners are being given money…to allow people to hunt and fish on their land," Edwards said during a telephone conference call with Iowa reporters. "The federal government I think could play a role in that."
Edwards said as president, he’d also take steps to keep loggers and oil companies from claiming rural "backcountry" areas so that land can be preserved for hunters. He’d also impose stricter emissions standards on power plants as he said that’d be one way to reduce mercury levels in lakes and streams.
"I also want to create an ‘Outdoor Career Corps’ for young people in rural areas to train for jobs in conservation, to be things like forest rangers and land managers," Edwards said. "And, when national parks need to cull their game species because of over-population, I think they should look into having local hunters do the job." Edwards contends that move would save taxpayers "millions."
Edwards told reporters he went fishing "a few weeks ago," but the last time he went hunting was "many, many years ago" when he was a young man.
"In a rural area in North Carolina, everyone around me had guns and hunted and fished," Edwards said. "It’s important to me to show respect for the Second Amendment, to protect hunters’ Second Amendment rights."
According to Edwards, there are steps that can be taken to keep Americans safe from gun crimes like the mass shootings earlier this year at Virginia Tech. Edwards said that young shooter should never have been able to buy a gun because of his history of mental problems.
Edwards is campaigning in western Iowa today.