VICTORY! Deadly Partnership Between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Rifle Association Rescinded
In January, a controversial agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Rifle Association was announced that would have negatively affected wild animals and conservation efforts across the country. In March we wrote asking you to speak up and urge the Biden administration to immediately rescind this agreement which was created under the outgoing Trump administration. Today we write with the terrific news that it has been scrapped.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed would have established a 10-year partnership between the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) through the FWS’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, which works with private landowners to restore and conserve habitat for the benefit of numerous species across the nation.
Considering that more than half the land in the U.S. is privately owned, landowner support of conservation efforts is critical for wild animals.
Since 1987, about 50,000 landowners have taken part in this voluntary program to complete 60,000 habitat restoration projects on 6 million acres that have been focused on upland forests, wetlands, native prairies, marshes, rivers, and streams, and are prioritized to benefit threatened and endangered species.
In 2020 alone, 2000 new landowners signed up to take part and restored more than 283,000 acres of upland habitat, more than 19,000 acres of wetlands, and 280 miles of rivers and streams in partnership with 800 conservation organizations and 240 biologists. The projects completed connected, enlarged, and buffered important conservation areas and national wildlife refuges, protecting more land and corridors for wild animals to safely travel (and 1,835 local jobs were created in the process).
The agreement that was signed inexplicably brought the NRA on board this program, and required the FWS to involve the organization in developing “science-based strategies” for wildlife conservation and managing migratory corridors, even though the NRA has absolutely no specialized knowledge or experience with this. Ultimately, it was intended to recruit more hunters and increase opportunities to kill more animals, especially “big game” species.
Thankfully, on August 25 DC Report broke the news that the Biden administration had tossed this agreement. “The service’s memorandum of understanding with the National Rifle Association was not adequately reviewed by agency staff or the Department of the Interior solicitor’s office,” said an agency spokesperson. “Therefore, the service terminated the agreement.”
We’re thrilled with this outcome, grateful to everyone who signed our alert, and will continue to work to see conservation efforts focus on protecting habitats for wild animals who are increasingly at risk of losing their homes.