Hunting Dramatically Expanded on National Wildlife Refuges For Second Year in a Row
In June we published an action alert calling on you to speak up against a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand hunting and fishing rights across 88 national wildlife refuges and a national fish hatchery. Today we regretfully report that the Department of the Interior has announced that the rule change has been finalized and the hunting expansion will go into effect.
Our National Wildlife Refuge System was created to provide a haven for wild animals who are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation as a result of human activities and population growth. Since the first refuge was established in Florida in 1903, 568 refuges have been designated in every state across the nation, providing homes for numerous species, including those who are threatened and endangered.
Unfortunately, recent changes have further opened the door to hunting and fishing in these precious habitats. In 2020 the Trump administration expanded hunting on 2.3 million acres at nearly 150 refuges and hatcheries.
And now with this announcement, the Biden administration has expanded hunting on another 2.1 million acres at another 88 refuges and a hatchery — opening the door to killing dozens of species, many of whom will now be targeted for the first time.
The rationale provided for this expansion is “to promote healthy wildlife habitats while boosting local recreation economies.” As for boosting local recreational economies, this will certainly do that. As to the former, unleashing mass bloodshed and death is a peculiar understanding of how to protect something.
The animals who are hunted are intelligent, social creatures, capable of feeling pain and fear. Being shot with a bow and arrow is an excruciatingly painful event, the pain of which can be quite prolonged if the animal flees and bleeds to death slowly over the course of hours or days. Even if the animals survive (temporarily), they may be maimed and left to die of predation or starvation. Not only does hunting deprive individual animals of their lives, but it also disrupts families, communities, even entire ecosystems. Many of the animals who are hunted are keystone species, meaning they play a vital role in the health of their environment. Kill these animals, and members of every other species who live in the same ecosystem will suffer, and many may die.
This is an incredibly disappointing change that will harm countless animals and certainly doesn’t align with the current administration’s laudable goal of protecting and restoring 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030.
If you’d like to help us in our efforts to protect wild animals and keep hunting and trapping out of national wildlife refuges, please consider making a donation.