Eye on the Antis – October 2006
HSUS Wins Judgement Against Refuge Hunting
The latest victory for the animal-rights, anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) should send a shocking wake-up call that sportsmen better get their rear-ends off the 10-gallon bucket of false contentment and rosy everything’s-just-fine sentiment many of us seem to be stuck on.
A federal court has ruled that the hunting seasons at Bond Swamp, Okefenokee, and 35 other National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) are illegal. A federal court in Washington D.C. actually agrees with HSUS that our government violated the law in allowing hunting on NWRs, many of which, by the way, were purchased with money raised by selling duck hunters those pretty duck stamps.
The HSUS lawsuit claims that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which manages NWRs, failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and its requirement of extensive Environ-mental Impact Statements prior to establishing refuge hunting seasons.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the USFWS must perform costly and lengthy studies on the environmental impact of hunting on the entire refuge system before it can expand hunting opportunities on any single refuge. Each type of hunting on every refuge must be nationally compatable.
This idea that hog hunting on Bond Swamp must be proven compatible with every other refuge in the nation is impractical, ridiculous, unnecessary, and likely impossible. Before proposing a hunting season, refuges already provide scientific studies by professional wildlife folks that show the proposed hunting doesn’t impact the local refuge — they do this for any refuge activity, whether it’s cutting a tree or allowing vehicular traffic. I know it’s a crazy concept for an animal-rights, HSUS member to comprehend, but the folks running the refuges are actually there to protect the habitats and wildlife! So, what does shooting a hog in Bond Swamp have to with an endangered golden-breasted-tuft-monkeys in California?
Congress has already expressly recognized the legitimacy of hunting on units of the refuge system and directed the USFWS to facilitate and increase these opportunities whenever they are determined to be compatible.
Archery hunting is currently going on at Bond Swamp and Okefenokee, and quota firearms hunts for deer and hogs have drawn. But as of September 21, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is not sure how the ruling will affect this season’s hunting dates.
“We are working with lawyers to see how this will unfold,” said Jeff Fleming of the USFWS Office of Public Affairs. “We are trying to map out where we’re going to go and how this will affect those existing hunting programs.”
The judge has granted the parties time to work toward an agreement suitable to both parties and has allowed hunting to continue in the meantime. No one expects HSUS to agree to anything short of banning the hunts. Most expect USFWS to file an appeal. We all better hope that an appeal is victorious.
If it is not, and the court’s ruling stands, what is stopping HSUS from saying that Piedmont Refuge’s deer hunts violate the same premise? What’s stopping them from suing Georgia to say that WRD hasn’t sufficiently proven that deer hunting doesn’t harm endangered species on any or all of our WMAs?
HSUS and the Sierra Club are currently suing USFWS contending that the black bear in Florida is a separate sub-species that should be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which would ban hunting.
The environmental tree-huggers have all but ended wildlife management on National Forests through this same kind of lawsuit. They tie up an agency with requirements of paperwork and manpower that are impossible to fulfill even if they were remotely necessary. The animal-rights and environmental groups could care less about the process, only that the lawsuit gets them what they want. For HSUS, it’s a ban on hunting.
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