National Wildlife Refuges Should be Sanctuaries – Not Public Hunting Grounds
At the beginning of the Biden Administration, The Rewilding Institute launched our Healing Nature’s Wounds campaign. We identified 25 egregious assaults on Nature perpetrated by the Trump Administration and challenged the Biden Administration to reverse those assaults within the first 100 days of the new administration. One of those 25 actions was a proposal to increase hunting and fishing on many National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs):
Prohibit hunting and trapping of wildlife on national parks and wildlife refuges, in Alaska and throughout the United States and its territories. In 2015, based on input from public hearings and over 70,000 public comments, the National Park Service issued a final rule which codified prohibitions on certain types of harvest practices in national parks that are otherwise permitted by the State of Alaska’s hunting regulations, including killing brown bears and black bears over bait; killing wolves and coyotes (including pups) during the denning season; killing swimming caribou; and other unethical hunting activities. The current administration rescinded this rule allowing these unethical practices to continue. Another regulatory rollback by the Department of the Interior opened Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to previously banned hunting practices. And on August 18, 2020, the current administration announced 850 more hunting and fishing opportunities across 2.3 million acres of federal land at 147 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. National parks and wildlife refuges should be sanctuaries where native wildlife are not hunted or trapped. The incoming administration should issue an executive order establishing such a policy, and immediately reverse existing policies allowing hunting, trapping, and fishing on national parks and wildlife refuges.
The ”fix” could have been as simple as tossing the Trump proposal in the trash can. Much to our surprise, Biden’s appointees at the Department of The Interior (DOI) and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have issued a proposed rule to advance the proposal on 90 NWRs. In collaboration with Project Coyote, we submitted comments in opposition to this proposal which can be accessed here.
Unfortunately, the official public comment period has expired, but if you are as outraged as we are, you can voice your opinions at official websites for DOI and USFWS here and here. We provide substantive analyses and make 5 recommendations at the end of our comments which you are welcome to reiterate in your letters. Official document titles and numbers can be found at the top of our comments.
For Wild Nature,
The Rewilding Institute Carnivore Conservation Biologist
David Parsons received his Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University and his Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology from Oregon State University. Dave is retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where from 1990-1999 he led the USFWS’s effort to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the American Southwest.
Dave’s interests include the ecology and conservation of large carnivores, protection and conservation of biodiversity, and wildlands conservation at scales that fully support ecological and evolutionary processes. He is the Carnivore Conservation Biologist for The Rewilding Institute, a member of the Science Advisory Board of Project Coyote, a former member and chairman of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and a former graduate advisor in the Environmental Studies master’s degree program at Prescott College. Dave serves as a science and policy advisor for organizations and coalitions advocating for wolf recovery and landscape-scale conservation in the Southwest.
In 2001, Dave received the New Mexico Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s annual “Professional Award.” In 2007 at the North American Wolf Conference, Dave received the “Alpha Award” for his “outstanding professional achievement and leadership toward the recovery of Mexican wolves.” In 2008 he received the “Outstanding Conservation Leadership Award” from the Wilburforce Foundation and the “Mike Seidman Memorial Award” from the Sky Island Alliance for his conservation achievements.
Dave enjoys wildlife viewing, wilderness adventures, and dancing. He lives in Albuquerque, NM, with his wife, Noralyn.