SCI Submits Comments in Opposition to Draft BIDEH Policy

SCI stands First for Hunters in protecting public hunting opportunities and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.  In serving this role, SCI submitted comments in opposition to a draft U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy that risks closing hunting opportunities on the National Wildlife Refuge System and reducing the ability of States to properly manage wildlife.

The Service has proposed an update to its Biological Integrity, Diversity, and Environmental Health (BIDEH) policy for National Wildlife Refuges.  This policy purports to create “flexibility” for refuge managers to address climate change and other human-caused environmental impacts.  Unfortunately, it does the opposite.  The proposal allows refuge managers to prohibit activities on Refuges that threaten BIDEH.  It also creates default prohibitions on predator control and agricultural practices on Refuges.  SCI’s comments explain that these restrictions violate the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and fail to recognize Congress’ 2017 resolution invalidating a similar restriction on predator control on Refuges in Alaska.  Further, the proposed policy does not sufficiently engage with States or State data in Refuge decision-making.  The end result is a potential loss of hunting opportunities if refuge managers feel they conflict with BIDEH or represent predator control.  This result conflicts with the Improvement Act’s directive to facilitate compatible hunting opportunities on Refuge Systems lands and to align State and federal laws as much as possible.

Access SCI’s comment and a presentation on predator control by SCI Foundation Director of Conservation Dr. Chris Comer here.

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