“News broke last week that the Department of Interior (DOI) is planning to open an unprecedented number of wildlife refuges to hunting and fishing. The proposed changes, if finalized, would open over 2.3 million acres of federal land across 97 national wildlife refuges and 9 fish hatcheries. The administration had already expanded access to over 70 wildlife refuges for hunting and fishing in 2019.
Essentially, both the 2019 and 2020 rules that have, or will, expand access to hunting/fishing in wildlife refuges gut federal oversight of these activities. “While the Trump policy retains federal ownership, it basically eviscerates federal management,” said Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “The states end up managing federal land with federal dollars but following state laws. That’s a sea change from federal management for conservation and biodiversity rather than promoting hunting.”