An animal-rights group and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have announced settlement discussions over a lawsuit that could revoke hunting opportunities on nearly 100 National Wildlife Refuges nationwide. In November, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suit over the 2020 expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on 2.2 million acres within the refuge system. The litigious group alleges that hunting on refuges threatens endangered species due to hunters trampling critical habitat, through lead poisoning as a result of spent ammunition and because grizzly bears are mistakenly shot by hunters believing them to be black bears or in self-defense.
The lawsuit seemed a long shot given the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, landmark legislation drafted and pushed through Congress by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, which ensured that hunting, fishing and trapping would occur on any refuge where it is compatible. The historic law has opened millions of acres to hunting as every Presidential administration since has touted expansion of opportunities within the system.
However, the surprise joint filing by the Biden Administration and CBD asking for a delay in the court proceedings while the two sides conduct settlement talks sends an alarming message to hunting groups that are preparing to intervene in the lawsuit to ensure the rights of sportsmen are protected. Should the administration reach an agreement, CBD would likely not have to spend a single legal dollar, as these settlements often include payment of legal fees using taxpayer dollars. Worse, any settlement will likely include restrictions or revocation of hunting opportunities. The Sportsmen’s Alliance and other conservation groups were offered no warning of the pending talks, nor offered a seat at the table.
“A few short months ago, the Biden Administration was touting the largest expansion of hunting and fishing in history on these lands and now they’re negotiating with animal-rights activists over hunting opportunities, while excluding sportsmen from having a seat at the table,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, which has been preparing to defend hunting on refuges in the case. “It’s no surprise that animal-rights and anti-hunting groups want to stop hunting, but sportsmen shouldn’t tolerate being shut out as the Biden Administration negotiates away hunting opportunities on public lands.”
The best way to save these hunting opportunities from being lost is for American sportsmen to contact their U.S. Congressmen and U.S. Senators to oppose these backroom negotiations.
Sportsmen need to speak up immediately! Call your U.S. Senators and Representative and make sure they hear your voice. Use the Sportsmen’s Alliance Legislative Action Center to reach your Senators and Representatives.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.