Quantcast
Animals
Moose at North Dakota's Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge can be legally killed for the first time this hunting season. FWS

Zinke Increases Hunting and Fishing Areas in 30 Wildlife Refuges

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is expanding or opening hunting in 30 National Wildlife Refuges, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced Friday.

The move will open more than 251,000 acres and raise the total number of places where hunting is permitted to 377 and where fishing is permitted to 312. The expansion will be in effect in time for the 2018-2019 hunting season.


"American sportsmen and women contribute over a billion dollars a year to fund conservation. Without hunters and anglers, we wouldn't be able to conserve wildlife and habitat; and, without access to our public lands like National Wildlife Refuges, many hunters would have nowhere to go," Zinke said, explaining his decision.

Federal law mandates that hunting and fishing can only take place in wildlife refuges if it does not conflict with conservation, The Hill pointed out.

Refuges to be opened to certain types of hunting and fishing for the first time include Florida's Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge to turkey hunting, Illinois' Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge to migratory bird and game hunting, Maine and New Hampshire's Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge to turkey hunting, Michigan's Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to additional migratory bird, small game and furbearer hunting, Minnesota's Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge to some gamebird and small mammal hunting, Montana's Swan River National Wildlife Refuge to big game hunting, New Jersey's Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge to wild turkey and squirrel hunting, New Mexico's Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge to Eurasian-collared dove and Gambel's quail hunting, North Dakota's J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge and Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge to moose hunting, Ohio's Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge to white-tailed deer hunting, Ohio's Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to certain gamebird, small mammal and furbearer hunting, Pennsylvania's John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum to white-tailed deer hunting and Wisconsin 's Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge to certain gamebird, small mammal and furbearer hunting.

Responses in Montana to hunting expansions at the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the Swan River National Wildlife refuge show the range of conservationist views on the issue.

When the expansion was first proposed in May, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Conservation Director John Gale praised Zinke's efforts.

"Certainly refuges are a special place that provide refuge for fish and wildlife, that's what [their] purpose is," Gale said. "So there has to be a balance of use across the refuge spaces, and we're glad Secretary Zinke is working with refuge managers all across the system to make sure we're achieving that important balance, while expanding opportunities at the same time," Gale told Montana Public Radio.

But Friends of the Wild Swan member Arlene Montgomery said the expanded hunting access was not needed in a state that had plenty of it already.

"Our refuge system should be a refuge for wildlife, and I don't know that we should be having hunting on the refuges," Montgomery told Montana Public Radio. "The Department of Interior needs to also recognize that there are other uses for these lands besides just hunting and fishing."

Zinke has been criticized in the past for favoring hunting and fishing over protecting wildlife.

He promoted a proposal to allow hunting tactics described as "cruel" by conservation groups in national parks in Alaska, such as shooting bear and wolf cubs in their dens.

In August, various green groups sued the DOI over its International Wildlife Conservation Council, claiming the group broke federal law by including so many members that benefited or advocated trophy hunting, CNN reported.

Also in August, the DOI's Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) justified a reversal of a neonicotinoid ban in National Wildlife Refuges partly by arguing the use of the bee-harming pesticides was necessary to grow more grain favored by waterfowl prized by hunters.

However, it is also true that granting hunting and fishing permits and charging equipment fees have been a major part of how the U.S. pays for conservation, and a decline in both activities is proving challenging to wildlife agencies, NPR reported in March.

A FWS study found that the percentage of Americans who hunt has fallen by half in 50 years.

"Conservationists need to be looking at what is the next step to keep our conservation programs and places strong and healthy," Wisconsin Nature Conservancy Director Mary Jean Huston told NPR. "Things need to evolve."

Some ideas include new sales taxes or finding ways to monetize more currently popular outdoor activities like wildlife viewing.

Hunting and fishing advocates favored Zinke for Interior Secretary among potential front-runners because of his commitment to increasing their access to public lands, but some have also come to criticize him for recommending shrinking national monuments for fossil fuel extraction, CNN reported in 2017.

"We can have all the access we want to a concrete parking lot, but that access doesn't mean anything if that fish and wildlife habitat isn't there," Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President Land Tawney told CNN.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Getty Images

Climate Change Is Already Making Hurricanes Wetter, Study Confirms

New research published in Nature Wednesday has confirmed that some of the most destructive hurricanes to pummel the U.S. in the past decade were made worse by climate change.

Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people in Louisiana, Hurricane Irma, which devastated the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. last year, and Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 in Puerto Rico, were five to 10 percent wetter because of global warming, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Westend61 / Getty Images

EcoWatch Gratitude Photo Contest: Submit Now!

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Baby mountain gorilla. Pixabay

Conservation and 'Renewed Hope': Mountain Gorilla Numbers Rebound

First, the good news. Collaborative conservation efforts have brought "renewed hope" for mountain gorillas and two large whale species, according to today's update from the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

The mountain gorilla subspecies moved from "critically endangered" to "endangered" due to anti-poaching patrols and veterinary interventions. In 2008, their population dropped to as low as 680 individuals––but the new estimates reveal that the number of mountain gorillas has increased to more than 1,000 individuals—the highest figure ever recorded for the eastern gorilla subspecies, the IUCN said.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Agricultural workers in Salinas, California. Michael Davidson / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

200+ Groups Call on Senate to Reject 'Pesticide Industry Loyalist' as USDA's Top Scientist

By Andrea Germanos

Denouncing his "strong ties to corporate agribusiness and pesticide companies," more than 240 groups urged the Senate on Wednesday to reject the nomination of Scott Hutchins, President Donald Trump's pick for chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
The world's forested area shrunk by 129 million hectares between 1990 and 2015. Pixabay

France Looks to Curb Palm Oil and Beef Imports to Halt Deforestation

In a significant move to combat worldwide deforestation, the French government unveiled a national strategy on Wednesday that looks to curb imports of soybean, palm oil, beef and beef products, cocoa, rubber, as well as wood and its derivatives.

The new plan, a joint effort from five French ministries, identifies these items as contributing the most to "imported deforestation"—meaning these products are directly or indirectly tied to forest degradation.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
The dramatic conclusions of a recent study on ocean warming have been cast in doubt by newly discovered errors. marion faria photography / Getty Images

New Findings Cast Doubt on Claim That Oceans Have Warmed 60% More Than Scientists Thought

Two weeks ago, EcoWatch reported on a terrifying study that claimed the world's oceans had warmed 60 percent more in the past 25 years than previously thought. This raised the possibility that the earth was more even more sensitive to climate change than scientists had believed, meaning we have even less time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep temperatures within a livable range.

In the two weeks since the study was first published in Nature, however, errors have been spotted in the paper that cast doubt on that alarming 60 percent figure.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Pixabay

Turkey Is Bad on Antibiotics—Pork and Beef, Even Worse

By David Wallinga, MD

Heading into the holidays, many of our families are planning meals centered around a delicious turkey, ham or brisket. But a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and our partners at Food Animal Concerns Trust shows that our families' health is at significant risk from how these American meats are typically produced.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The Great Australian Bight is home to one of only two southern right whale calving grounds in the world. Greenpeace / Jaimen Hudson

An Oil Spill in the Great Australian Bight Could Be Twice as Bad as Deepwater Horizon

Equinor, Norway's state oil company formerly known as Statoil, has faced criticism from environmentalists over its plans to drill the Great Australian Bight off the country's southern coast. A potential spill in the area would threaten the ecosystem and endanger the largest breeding populations of endangered southern right whales in the world.

Such fears are now confirmed if a blowout should actually occur, according to a leaked draft Oil Pollution Emergency Plan authored by Equinor and obtained by Greenpeace's Australia Pacific branch.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!