The press release from the U.S. Department of Interior dated 05 June 2019 reads, in part …
U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced from Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge a proposal for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) across more than 1.4 million acres.
According to Bernhardt …
“… Trump is committed to expanding public access on public lands, and this proposal is executing on that directive by opening and increasing more access to hunting and fishing by the Fish and Wildlife Service at more stations and across more acres than ever before. Hunting and fishing are more than just traditional pastimes as they are also vital to the conservation of our lands and waters, our outdoor recreation economy, and our American way of life. These refuges and hatcheries provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and women and their families across the country to pass on a fishing and hunting heritage to future generations and connect with wildlife.”
How the Sam Heck is the murder of animals “vital to the conservation of our lands and waters”??? And why must animals die for “our outdoor recreation economy”??? Did they ever hear of swimming, picnicking, playing ball, tossing a Frisbee, running, hiking, and all those other non-violent forms of outdoor recreation? Must we murder in order to have fun outdoors??? If that is what is considered the “American way of life”, count me out!
As one opponent of the move said …
“We looked up the word refuge: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. Now if you and your family need a refuge we assume you would not want to be the target of gunfire. The same holds for our fellow animals.”
Bernhardt’s predecessor, Ryan Zinke, ordered the department in 2017 to review ways to expand hunting and fishing access to public lands. His spokeswoman said the Obama administration “did not appreciate access to hunting and target shooting like this administration does” and developed overly restrictive policies.
And as I was looking into this most recent abomination, guess what else I discovered? Here is what the Department of Interior has been doing to wildlife protections since Trump took office:
- Opened nine million acres of Western land to oil and gas drilling by weakening habitat protections for the sage grouse.
- Overturned a ban on the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands.
- Overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges.
- Ended an Obama-era rule barring hunters on some Alaska public lands from using bait to lure and kill grizzly bears.
- Withdrew proposed limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that people who fish could unintentionally kill or injure with sword-fishing nets on the West Coast. In 2018, California issued a state rule prohibiting the use of the nets the rule was intending to regulate.
- Amended fishing regulations for a number of species to allow for longer seasons and higher catch rates.
- Rolled back a roughly 40-year-old interprentation of a policy aimed at protecting migratory birds, potentially running afoul of treaties with Canada and Mexico.
- Overturned a ban on using parts of migratory birds in handicrafts made by Alaskan Natives.
And currently under consideration are even more heartbreaking rollbacks …
- Proposed stripping the Endangered Species Act of key provisions.
- Proposed relaxing environmental protections for salmon and smelt in California’s Central Valley in order to free up water for farmers.
A former friend informed me not too long ago that “God put everything on earth here for our enjoyment and convenience”. You may now understand why she is a former friend. Apparently, that is a belief shared by Donald Trump, Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt, but I do not believe it is shared by the vast majority of people in the U.S.
I do not believe that any creature was put on this earth for men to get their jollies by shooting them with guns. Back in the day, when that was the only way people could eat, perhaps it was justified, but even then, people of conscience killed only what they needed to eat. When people kill just for bragging rights, I find myself hoping they end up face-to-face, mano-a-mano with the animal, be it bear or lion, and let the chips fall where they may.
That our government believes a man’s right to kill senselessly supersedes an animal’s right to life, then that government is not one I can or will ever support. Oh … and to all my hiker friends … better wear a bullet-proof vest from now on when you’re hiking, for the damned hunters don’t really look very closely … if it moves, they shoot.
The Trump boys with their trophies …