Unqualified Animal Killer Put In Charge of Protecting Endangered Animals
Despite our best efforts, we regret to inform you that Martha Williams has been confirmed to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). In January, we published an action alert asking for your help in opposing her nomination, which almost 15,000 In Defense of Animals supporters signed. Tragically, senators overwhelmingly did not listen, and Williams will now assume management of 567 wildlife refuges and the administration of the Endangered Species Act. Untold numbers of animals will suffer and die because of this Biden appointment.
There are a number of glaring issues with Williams’ appointment. To begin with, Williams is a hunter and a fisher and grew up exploiting captive animals on a farm. There is every reason to believe Williams has absolutely no empathetic response to animals at all. Secondly, Williams’ previous position was as director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. State wildlife management objectives — largely directed at stocking fish and “game” populations for fishers and hunters — differ radically from the USFWS’s mission, which is directed at wild animal and ecosystem conservation. In addition, in her time over the past year as acting head of the USFWS, Williams has made no effort to reverse Trump-era policy assaults on wild animals including gray wolf delisting, which has led to a number of mass wolf killings. She has also overseen an expansion of hunting on national wildlife refuges and promoted the delisting of grizzly bears during her previous stint as Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks director.
Williams is also not legally eligible for the position. She is a lawyer, not a biologist, and the law (16 U.S. Code § 742(b)) explicitly states that “No individual may be appointed as the Director unless he is, by reason of scientific education and experience, knowledgeable in the principles of fisheries and wildlife management" [emphasis ours]. This is not nitpicking. Conservationists are sounding the alarm that any decision made by Williams could be rendered null and void because her appointment is contrary to law. It is a requirement that the job requires a college degree in wildlife management, which she does not have.
Lastly, it is worth examining the response to her nomination and appointment by hunting groups and the politicians on their payroll.
Like Montana’s awful wolf-killing Republican governor, Democratic Senator Jon Tester continues to act against wolf protection as well. Tester is the senator who got Obama to delist wolves using a rider on an unrelated appropriations bill. It is Tester whose next animal-hating goal was to have Martha Williams installed.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who has played a leading role in rolling back protections for endangered species, praised her understanding of “Montanans’ concerns with top-down over-reaching policies and frustrations with bureaucratic regulatory challenges.” In plain English, she’s cool with states annihilating their wolves on behalf of ranchers and Big Ag. She has also received broad support from pro-hunting groups across the country.
We are living in a moment of great peril for the planet. At least 1 million species are currently at risk of extinction. The USFWS is the agency tasked with protecting our nation’s wild animals and their ecosystems. If our politicians have failed us by appointing Williams, our last hope is that the courts will turn their attention to her patently illegal appointment and render it invalid.
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