Dozens of Congressional Members Side with Sportsmen in Fight for Wildlife Refuges

Opposition to the Biden administration’s ongoing negotiations with an extreme environmental and animal-rights organization concerning hunting, fishing and trapping on National Wildlife Refuges continues to grow as 33 members of Congress have joined the chorus of 41 national sportsmen’s organizations.

The Congressional Western Caucus just submitted a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams expressing concern over President Biden’s “commitment – or potential lack thereof – to ensuring access on our nation’s wildlife refuges for hunters, fishers, and sportsmen and women.”

The letter further states dismay at the decision to negotiate possible settlement options with the Center for Biological Diversity, whose sue-and-settle tactics are well documented and counterproductive to conservation.

“Shockingly, rather than defending the 2020 Rule in court, FWS initiated settlement discussions with this litigious special interest group, whose long track record of filing frivolous lawsuits has done nothing to further effective conservation efforts across the country … We are deeply concerned by these settlement discussions and the fact that the Administration has chosen not to publicly declare their intent to defend the expansion of access to our nation’s wildlife refuges,” wrote the lawmakers. “It is hard to imagine any settlement would not involve the loss of hunting opportunities … We are especially concerned that the settlement may invoke policies set during the Obama Administration banning the use of traditional ammo and tackle on all refuge lands. This is unacceptable.”

The letter was signed by Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Vice Chairs Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Chris Stewart (UT-02), Liz Cheney (WY-AL), Pete Stauber (MN-08), and Doug Lamborn (CO-05), and Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Jay Obernolte (CA-08), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), Joe Wilson (SC-02), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Bill Posey (FL-08), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Andy Harris (MD-01), Greg Steube (FL-17), Mike Simpson (ID-02), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Rodney Davis (IL-12), Jason Smith (MO-08), David Valadao (CA-21), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Tom Tiffany (WI-07), Ben Cline (VA-06), Larry Bucshon (IN-08), Matt Rosendale (MT-AL), and Burgess Owens (UT-01).

“The Sportsmen’s Alliance would like to thank these elected officials for standing up for hunters, anglers and trappers – America’s most consistent and engaged conservationists who have funded refuges to the tune of $1 billion,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, which first revealed the settlement talks and has spearheaded the opposition. “We hope Director Williams and Secretary Haaland take this opportunity to reverse course and work with the nation’s sportsmen against this baseless lawsuit.”

The diverse spectrum of sportsmen represented by the coalition of the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International and National Rifle Association were recently denied intervenor status in the lawsuit and were forbidden from even filing a brief expressing specific concerns in their areas of expertise. The uncontested and unusual ruling recently came at the sole discretion of U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy. The hunting coalition is weighing legal options moving forward. Any appeal of the ruling would be to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.