Sportsmen’s Groups Fight Proposal Potentially Banning all Legally Traded Wildlife

Sportsmen’s Groups Fight Proposal Potentially Banning all Legally Traded Wildlife

A push by two anti-hunting groups to have a new federal regulation—outside the scope of current law—to basically end the transport of harvested game both domestically and internationally, has drawn sharp rebuke. Thirty-six hunting and wildlife conservation organizations, including the National Rifle Association, signed onto letters to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Centers for Disease Control yesterday in strong opposition to the proposal.

The issue broke earlier this month when the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), under the auspices of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, petitioned the Department of Interior and its USFWS to publish a rule that, among other things, would eliminate transporting harvested wild animals and most birds across state lines. While purported to be about live animals that could carry disease, the proposed rule would include a complete ban on interstate transport of meat, hide, horns, antlers and skulls of harvested animals. The petition would also include hunters who take game animals in other states and then transport them home, even if their meat has been professionally prepared by a butcher or taxidermist.

“These petitions have no basis in law and are using COVID-19 as an excuse to end the legal, regulated trade in wildlife and birds, but hunters would also be caught up in this mess if the petitions were acted upon,” said Erica Tergeson, senior advisor for the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “Thankfully NRA and numerous other hunting groups have put the Biden Administration on notice: We will do everything we can to block these unlawful requests from moving forward.”

While the proposal focuses largely on international wildlife transport, approval of the rule might dash the hopes of many Americans for the hunt of a lifetime they might have been planning for years. The hunter-backed wildlife conservation groups that signed onto this week’s letters in opposition are mobilizing as the anti-hunting petition would potentially create new rules and regulations to prohibit the importation, transportation or acquisition of wild animals.

The pro-hunting response letter put forth by the 36 hunting and wildlife conservation groups, all members of American Wildlife Conservation Partners, says the proposal completely ignores the truth about hunting and its benefits.

“The petition … capitalizes on the COVID-19 pandemic to misrepresent the sporting community and its stakeholders,” the letter stated. “Especially concerning is the fact that the petition is blind to decades of conservation efforts funded by legal, regulated sport hunting that have led to the survival and sustainability of countless wildlife species—safeguarding biodiversity and providing associated ecosystem services in the process.”

After a lengthy explanation of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation—the most successful in the world and one which holds legal, regulated sport hunting as a central management tool—the letter tracked the incredible benefit hunting brings to local communities, both here and abroad.

“Prohibiting the import and export of wild animals and their parts and products would eliminate the opportunity for sportsmen and women to pursue an important tradition, thus alienating the conservation community, hindering efforts to effectively manage wildlife abroad, undermining jobs and economic security for local communities, and simultaneously depriving nations of the critical resources needed to effectively control poaching,” the letter concluded. “Considering the above benefits that the trade in wild mammals and birds and their parts and products has for wildlife conservation around the world, we encourage the DOI to reject the CBD/NRDC petition that seeks to undermine conservation efforts and economic stimulus provided to rural communities through international hunting.”

Representing millions of sportsmen and women across the nation, the 36 hunting and wildlife conservation organizations that signed onto the letters include: the Woodcock Society, Archery Trade Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Bear Trust International, California Waterfowl Association, Camp Fire Club of America, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Conservation Force, Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, Dallas Safari Club, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, Houston Safari Club, Izaak Walton League of America, Masters of Foxhounds Association, Mule Deer Foundation, National Deer Association, National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, North American Falconry Association, Orion: The Hunter’s Institute, Pheasants Forever, Pope and Young Club, Professional Outfitters and Guides of America, Quail Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ruffed Grouse Society, Safari Club International, Sportsmen’s Alliance, Whitetails Unlimited, Wild Sheep Foundation, Wildlife Forever, Wildlife Management Institute and Wildlife Mississippi.

Please stay tuned to this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website for updates as the scenario unfolds.

About the Author
Freelance writer Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years, previously serving as editor of the NRA’s America’s First Freedom.