Today, SCI was joined by forty other conservation and hunting organizations, representing millions of sportsmen and women across the United States, in a letter to the Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams demanding that hunting opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges be maintained. This letter responds to recent settlement discussions between plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Service after CBD challenged the 2020 expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on 2.3 million acres of federal public land.
SCI and the other organizations have requested that the Service reject any settlement of pending litigation that would undermine or reduce the expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges.
CBD erroneously claims that additional hunting and fishing on these public lands poses a threat to endangered species through potential lead poisoning from ammunition and tackle. But SCI and its partners, who have intervened in the pending litigation, have pointed out the weaknesses in CBD’s complaint. For these reasons, the organizations strongly object to any settlement that would close hunting or fishing or ban the use of traditional ammunition or fishing tackle.
The letter reinforces the importance of hunting opportunities opened to assist in the management of overly abundant or invasive species. Additionally, the letter explains that hunting and fishing are essential to protecting habitat and funding and maintaining the National Wildlife Refuge System. The crucial role of these activities is demonstrated by the Service’s announcement earlier this month of a record $1.5 billion in funding for wildlife and habitat conservation generated from excise taxes on hunting, shooting, and fishing equipment. In announcing this historic revenue, the Service confirmed that hunting and fishing are consistent with the President’s “America the Beautiful” initiative.
Thus, the letter explains that any settlement closing access for hunting and fishing on refuge lands is wholly inconsistent with the traditional and the current role that hunting and fishing play in the refuge system.
This letter to Director Williams is part of SCI’s larger efforts to secure a No-Net-Loss commitment from the Biden Administration to protect hunting access around the world. A No-Net-Loss (or better) policy maintains or expands hunting and fishing access on public lands and is critical to protecting the freedom to hunt and the North American Model of Conservation. We encourage all hunters and conservationists to join us and sign our No-Net-Loss petition, found below. Any settlement with CBD stands in stark opposition to No-Net-Loss and the centrality of hunters to wildlife and habitat conservation. SCI will continue to work with our partners as we stand First for Hunters.