DOI Recognizes State Authority Over Fish, Wildlife Management

Citing a 35-year old rule acknowledging the general comprehensive responsibility of States over fish and wildlife, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan ZInke signed a Memorandum to “reaffirm the authority of the States to exercise their broad trustee and police powers as stewards of the Nation’s fish and wildlife species on public lands and waters under the jurisdiction of the Department.”

The Sept. 10 memorandum recognizes the role of States in fish and wildlife management and the necessity of coordination between Federal and State agencies in implementing the many laws and regulations.

“State governments have established fish and wildlife agencies that are charged with the responsibility and mandate to implement those statutes ensuring effective, appropriate, and efficient conservation and management of fish and resident wildlife species, including providing citizens with the opportunity to enjoy those fish and wildlife species through regulated hunting, fishing, and trapping,” the memorandum states.

gallagher trees“Moreover, State governments have consistently demonstrated their commitment to sustaining fish and wildlife resources in perpetuity for the benefit of both current and future citizens,” the memorandum continues.

Secretary Zinke then directed the DOI bureaus and offices and the Deputy Secretary of the Interior to take the following actions:

  • Within 45 days, all Bureaus and Offices are to complete a review of all regulations, policies, and guidance that pertain to the conservation and management of fish and wildlife species on lands and waters under their jurisdiction that are more restrictive than otherwise applicable State provisions for the management of fish and wildlife, including all such regulations, policies, and guidance that pertain to public recreational use and enjoyment of fish and wildlife species;
  • Within 90 days, each Bureau and Office referenced provide the Deputy Secretary a report containing detailed recommendations for the respective Bureau or Office to better align its regulations, policies, and guidance with State provisions.
  • After receiving the reports containing detailed recommendations, the Deputy Secretary shall appropriately consult with the State fish and wildlife agencies regarding the recommendations and deliver an implementation plan to the Secretary within 120 days of the date of the Memorandum.

SCI has commented several times in support of the Department of Interior’s moves to work with State agencies and to recognize state authority over fish and wildlife management.

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