by Countable | 9.11.17
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is planning to increase the "hunting activities" at nine National Wildlife Refuges (NWR), open one NWR to sport fishing for the first time, and add “pertinent refuge-specific regulations” to a plethora of NWRs across the country.
These regulations will impact sport fishing, migratory game bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting. They’re meant to "ensure that we maintain the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of the Refuge System for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans."
While the entire list of proposed changes runs 20 pages, there are certain themes, including:
increases in the number of hunting days
adding new hunting activities to refuges
adding new species to hunt
modifications to age of hunters and sport fishermen
changes and updates to methods of hunting
The Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting comments here. But you’d better hurry—comment season closes at 12 A.M. PST tonight.
We’ll be honest, Countabuddies—this is going to take some engaging. Comments can come from anyone – regarding general hunting and fishing concerns - but if you want to find the changes affecting a specific refuge near you, you’re going to have to go here and search the page for your NWR. (Oh, and the web version is missing the key for Table 1, but it’s on the PDF version.)
Before getting into a more detailed discussion of the issue at the center of these regulations – hunting – here’s a sample of various regulatory changes being proposed at NWRs:
Dale Bumpers White River NWR will "prohibit the use of decoys that contain moving parts or electrical components, except that you may use manually operated `jerk strings' to simulate decoy movement."
Sacramento River NWR will "prohibit using dogs while hunting feral hogs and black-tailed deer."
Lake Woodruff NWR will require dogs "be equipped with a GPS tracking device."
Lower Suwanee NWR is planning to prohibit the "use or possession of alcohol while fishing."
Baskett Slough NWR is proposing to only allow "hunters age 17 or younger" to “participate in the Youth Waterfowl Hunt. Youths must be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older.” Regarding this suggested policy change, one person commented, “I am all in favor of opening hunting for our youth hunters on Basket Slough national wildlife refuge. It will give many young hunters a chance to continue our great American hunting heritage.”
The bullseye at the center of all these proposed regulatory changes? Hunting.
The number of hunting days will be increased by 914, across 10 NWRs.
The FWS says that one of their reasons for regulating hunting on NWR is to "properly manage…wildlife resource(s)." This could be read to include the idea of hunting as conservation. It’s an oft-used argument based on the idea that hunting is required to control the population of deer, elk, hogs and other game and fowl.
As the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation points out, "In 1900, only 100,000 wild turkeys remained. Thanks to hunters, today there are over 7 million."
This is a view shared by actionbioscience.org, a non-commercial, educational resource of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. In the article "What Do We Do with Too Many White-tailed Deer?" author Thomas Rooney, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Wright State University, posits that deer overabundance creates a number of problems, including:
Deer density increases encounters with humans, including car collision (State Farm estimated that between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, there were 1.22 million collisions involving deer)
Deer cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage each year to agricultural crops, nurseries, and landscaping
Deer are responsible for damage or the disappearance of wild plant species in our natural areas
The Humane Society of the United States, however, questions the practicality of hunting as conservation. Their policy, as reported in Scientific American, is the "the vast majority of hunted species—such as waterfowl, upland birds, mourning doves, squirrels and raccoons— ‘provide minimal sustenance and do not require population control.’"
Similarly, Glenn Kirk of the California-based The Animals Voice, told Scientific American that hunting "is gratuitously cruel because unlike natural predation hunters kill for pleasure." Kirk added that,
"despite hunters’ claims that hunting keeps wildlife populations in balance, hunters’ license fees are used to ‘manipulate a few game [target] species into overpopulation at the expense of a much larger number of non-game species, resulting in the loss of biological diversity, genetic integrity and ecological balance.’"
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also has a strict policy against sports hunting because "there is no guarantee that wildlife taken in sport hunting will be killed outright or spared the distress of pursuit and possible wounding and escape." However, the ASPCA “does recognize that wildlife management may be necessary in situations where animal and human interests collide.” In these cases, the organization “urges that management strategies be nonlethal wherever possible and never include avoidable suffering or distress."
The National Audubon Society, meanwhile, takes a "seeing both sides" approach. They say their organization “has never been opposed to the hunting of game species if that hunting is done ethically and in accordance with laws and regulations design[ed] to prevent depletion of the wildlife resource.”
However, Audubon goes on to say they "will advocate restrictions on hunting, include[ing] the complete closure of a hunting season, whenever we are convinced that the welfare of the species involved requires it."
"This is no contradiction, though some people seem to think it is. Our objective is wildlife and environmental conservation, not the promotion of hunting. We think lots of the justifications for hunting are weak ones, and too often exaggerated for commercial reasons, and we do not hesitate to say so when the occasion calls for it. But this does not make us anti-hunting."
Do you agree with the commenter who wrote, "Hunting and Fishing on public land should be open to ALL US citizens = WE OWN IT!! Allowing youth hunts is a good start"? Or do you align more with the comment “killing should never be a game so please quit using that term, big ‘game’ hunting”? Either way, commenting ends tonight—head here, let FWS know your thoughts, then hit Take Action and let your reps know. And make sure to share your comments below.
(Photo Credit: river34 / iStockphoto)
Written by Countable
These changes are a horrendous act against We The People! To allow any increase in the destruction of our native wildlife & fish stock at a time when the impact of CLIMATE CHANGE & habitat decimation is already destroying the little we have left is criminal. The percentage of citizens who benefit from these proposed changes vs. those who do not is minuscule. It's the NRA advocating for more gun sales who are the true beneficiaries. Save our wild life, fish stock & wild places for future generations.
So, now the idea is to allow the increase of hunting at refuges. Don't you know what the word "refuge" means? Next you'll be allowing beatings at Women's Shelters.
These refuges were put in place for a reason. Please stop this from happening.
While an argument can be made that some species - in the absence of top level predators (who are on the decline) - become a problem for the ecosystem, this is not true of most other species. Therefore I am in favor of greater controls of hunting activity instead of loosening it.
No Licenses !!! There has got to be some places on this earth we will leave untouched and as the Good Lord gifted us. Why must human selfishness rule the day??
No increased hunting on refuges.
This is unforgivable. Over population of our species has resulted over the past century in the extinction of more than 26,000 species. Refuges were created to provide a safe place where wildlife could safely reproduce and mature. These areas should be off limits to hunters who want nothing more than a trophy to hang on there wall, a symbol of their alleged manhood.
Nope, no hunting on refuges. Period.
If the current situation with the superstorms and flooding from hurricanes isn't evidence enough that we need to preserve nature then I don't know what is. Weather and climate is not an act of god, it's influenced by everything happening on this planet and we need to help in whatever way possible. This will do no good for anyone but those making money off of game hunting.
If hunting is allowed at a wildlife refuge, what exactly is the meaning of the word "refuge"? I whole heartedly oppose hunting in lands where animals and nature are meant to be protected. It seems absurd that this must be said.
Guess we can't call them "refuges" anymore because that would be a lie. Oh, wait, that is what this administration is all about! Lies!
I am a hunter, the whole thing is an oxymoron. Why would you hunt in a "Refuge". Is this another "Only the rich can afford the price for the permits"? The whole Hunting thing is ridiculous, because it amounts to the poor and middle class hunt on public land and get a "fork horn", while the rich pack into private land to get a Boone and Crocket monster. The more money, the bigger the trophy.
I think it's silly to have wildlife refuges that permit hunting and fishing. The whole point of having a protected area is to provide habitat for these animals. There are more than enough areas for hunters. What about the rights of people who don't hunt and fish? Maybe they would want to enjoy the outdoors without the threat of stray bullets?
I think our government is lost on what the word "refuge" means. It used to imply a safe space. What you're telling us, is that there's no where that animals or people are safe in the US.
A refuge is a refuge--not a playground for hapless hunters. Don't allow hunting in wildlife refuges!! IT'S A REFUGE--and it's purpose is to preserve, not kill.
Lawmakers need to look up the word "refuge.". Why is this even a question? No hunting in wildlife refuges!
vote no on hunting in wildlife refuges. Animals are not the problem. Humans are.
I am strongly against adding more opportunities to kill our wildlife for sport
To allow hunting in a wildlife refuge is about the same as promising children they can stay here safely and then pulling the rug out from under them. These are practices and policies representative of the worst among us. They are practices we need to move away from in order to save ourselves.
The idea of hunting is the antithesis of the idea of a refuge. Protect our wildlife--which is going to have a difficult enough time getting on with the weather, fires, et al, as it is.