Trump and Officials Move to Expand Hunting and Fishing, Face Lawsuits

Land management officials and President Trump are pushing to expand hunting and fishing opportunities to 2.3 million more acres of refuges and fisheries. (Photo: BLM/Greg Shine)

The Department of the Interior under Donald Trump is working to open 138 national wildlife refuges and 9 national fish hatcheries to hunters and fishermen in the largest single access expansion in the department’s history. Following changes to hunting rules in Alaska, the administration is also facing lawsuits from environmental groups.

“President Trump is committed to expanding public access on public lands, and this proposal is executing on that directive by opening and increasing more access to hunting and fishing by the Fish and Wildlife Service at more stations and across more acres than ever before,” said Secretary Bernhardt in a statement.

“Hunting and fishing are more than just traditional pastimes as they are also vital to the conservation of our lands and waters, our outdoor recreation economy, and our American way of life,” Bernhardt continued. “These refuges and hatcheries provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and women and their families across the country to pass on a fishing and hunting heritage to future generations and connect with wildlife.”

Along with the initial proposal, the Department of the Interior is issuing new guidelines to the refuges and fisheries in all 50 states to produce new rules tailored to match existing hunting and fishing regulations from each state.

“Well-managed hunting and fishing are the backbone of conservation in this country, but inconsistent or overly complex regulations can act as a disincentive,” said department director Margaret Everson. “By aligning our refuge regulations with our state partners, we are reducing confusion and the regulatory burden on the American public, helping ensure the tradition and benefits of hunting and fishing can continue.”

Expanded fishing and hunting lands include the Leadville National Fish Hatchery in Colorado, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida and the Great River National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and Missouri.

Other hatcheries and refuges include the Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery in Texas, the Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery in Washington, the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and the Iron River National Fish Hatchery and Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming.

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“The announcement today by Secretary Bernhardt is incredibly welcome news and builds off great progress in increasing access to refuge lands the last two years,” said Delta Waterfowl’s John Devney. “Duck hunters have been leaders in investing in the refuge system and this action will provide them with new access and opportunities.”

“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds Secretary Bernhardt for his efforts to expand hunting and fishing opportunities within the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said the CSF President Jeff Crane.

Not everyone has the same positive outlook. Environmentalist groups worry that anglers and hunters will disproportionately take trophy game and predators.

“Mountain lions, bears and other top predators are so important to ecosystems,” said Collette Adkins, from theCenter for Biological Diversity, reports the Hill. “These beautiful and important animals will be in the crosshairs in many American national refuges.”

Changes to hunting rules in Alaska face specific criticism. Under the new rules, hunters can take black bear, including cubs, at den sites, brown bear over bait and wolves and coyotes during denning seasons.

“The century-old governing mission of the National Park Service includes protecting America’s ecosystems and wildlife, not turning lands into massive game farms,” said Jim Adams, Alaska regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

“Unfortunately under the Trump administration, the Park Service is ignoring that mission in rolling back previous prohibitions and moving to allow baiting grizzly bears and trapping wolves in their dens on Alaska’s national parklands,” he said.

The National Parks Conservation Association is one of 13 groups filing suit in response to the rules changes.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

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  • Bob September 2, 2020, 2:30 pm

    While we are on that subject How many so called sportsmen dump shit in the forest and game lands.

    Also how about opening up all of our Wildlife and national parks to drilling and fracking.

    Let Trump loose for another 4 years and we will have even more pollution in out waterways and more plastic shit in our oceans.

    But I guess we don’t give a shit about that !!

    • Big Al 45 September 22, 2020, 10:25 am

      A moronic comment Bob, and if you had read the article with an open mind, you would know this is about CONSERVATION, and that these populations of certain animals are at or approaching the max level the land and area can sustain.
      You apparently know little about Conservation practices to begin with, and the asinine comment about fracking shows your overall level of intellect here.
      And the VAST majority of plastic in the oceans is from Nations such as India, China and the former Soviet Union satellite Countries.
      This is what happens when you suffer from TDS, stupid statements devoid of fact or knowledge, and rife with hate spewing rhetoric.

  • John September 1, 2020, 12:49 pm

    READ THIS: §§669 et seq.), enacted in 1937 and now known as the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, provides funding for states and territories to support wildlife restoration, conservation, and hunter education and safety programs.
    The P-R Act generates funds through an 11 percent excise tax on long guns, ammunition, and archery equipment and a 10 percent excise tax on handguns. … Funds are then apportioned annually to state wildlife agencies for wildlife restoration programs and hunter education.

    I am no longer a hunter but I’m still dinged for taxes when I purchase any guns and ammo. I’m glad to do this as a way to protect our state’s natural resources for game hunters and tree huggers alike. How many millions of dollars are provided by those who would stop hunters from taking regulated game, all while enjoying the great outdoors and leaving their trash behind to be disposed by others. These non-hunters are often the real cause of useless animal depredation from nature and man made causes. Our frorests belong to all of us, abusers of this resource should stay home.

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