Washington, DC — A vacationing President Bush issued an Executive Order directing federal land management agencies to “expand and enhance hunting opportunities.” While the order does not overturn any conservation laws, it establishes a preference for hunting at the expense of all other activities in the administration of federal lands, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Although the order explicitly covers national forests, wildlife refuges and range lands, it also applies to all federal agencies “that have a measurable effect on land management,” such as military bases and nuclear weapon reservations. These federal agencies must now “evaluate the effect of [their] actions on trends in hunting participation [and] consider the economic and recreational value of hunting in agency actions.”
“This is political meddling posing as a conservation policy,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “This order reads like it was written by a lobbyist.”
Issued this Friday, August 17, 2007, the order mandates that federal land managers –
- “Manage wildlife and wildlife habitats on public lands in a manner that expands and enhances hunting opportunities, including through the use of hunting in wildlife management”;
- Defer to “private property rights and State management authority over wildlife resources” and
- Foster “productive populations of game species and appropriate opportunities for the public to hunt those species.”
“The President seems to be saying you can never have too many deer and that public lands should be run as a salad bar for trophy animals,” Ruch added. “It would have made more sense to have Dick Cheney sign this executive order instead.”
The edict does provide that any actions should be “consistent with agency missions.” Further, it stipulates that the directive “does not create any right…or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States [or] its departments…”
“This may amount to no more than meaningless pandering to the ‘hook and bullet’ vote but, if vigorously implemented, has the potential to change what happens on the ground,” Ruch concluded, noting that most federal lands except national parks already allow hunting. “There appears to be no shortage of hunting opportunities; perhaps the reason for the decline in hunting licenses lies elsewhere.”
The action enshrines an entity called the Sporting Conservation Council, created by outgoing Interior Secretary Gale Norton in 2006, to help develop “a comprehensive Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan [setting] forth a 10 year agenda for fulfilling” the goals of the Executive Order.