Who would have thought back in 2008 the supposed “progressive” president that we elected would turn out to be the most anti-wildlife administration that we have seen in modern times? The Democratic Party has sold out in favor of courting big energy money, trophy hunting lobby (SCI) money, and NRA money. They apparently think that their pandering to anti-environment interests will get them more votes in the midterms.
Why do I say this? The Democrat controlled senate is about to vote into law one of the most dangerous and reckless anti-wildlife bills that we have seen in decades. The bill, given the fluffy moniker “The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act,” is nothing but a giveaway to trophy hunters, anti-regulation/anti-EPA forces, and the NRA. Here is an in depth breakdown from the Wolf Conservation Center via PopVox about what this bill entails and how dangerous it truly is.
Specifically, S. 1996 will exclude national wildlife refuge management decisions from environmental review & public input and aims to open vital wilderness areas to damaging construction projects for the purpose of energy and/or mineral production, energy generation and/or transmission infrastructure as well as recreational hunting and shooting on FEDERAL lands.
1- It contains several alarming rollbacks of long-standing federal environmental and public land laws including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wilderness Act, and the National Forest Management Act. In the process, it would reduce or eliminate important protections for America’s public lands that have been in place for decades.
2 –In regards to NEPA, for example, the bill could exempt all decisions on and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands regarding trapping and recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting from compliance with NEPA by mandating that such lands be open to these activities. NEPA ensures that agencies assess and consider the impacts of their land-use decisions before those decisions are made. It also serves as an effective platform for the public to assess the environmental consequences of proposed agency actions and to weigh in on governmental decisions before they are finalized.
3- Underlying changes to the Wilderness Act embedded in the legislation seek to overturn decades of Congressional protection for wilderness areas. For example, the bill would require lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, including wilderness areas, to be managed as “open unless closed” to recreational shooting which includes “sport, training, competition, or pastime whether formal or informal” in Wilderness. Wilderness has always been closed to competitive events and commercial enterprises by statute and regulation.
4- The bill prioritizes hunting, trapping, recreational fishing, and recreational shooting in most Wildernesses by requiring that all federal land managers (except for lands managed by the National Park Service or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) facilitate the use of and access to lands under their control for these activities. The agencies could interpret that enhancing hunting, fishing and recreational shooting in Wilderness could allow management measures such as motorized use to artificially increase game or fish numbers. Such measures would be inconsistent with Wilderness and the Wilderness Act.
5- The legislation promotes the priorities of various special interests by making substantive policy changes to public land law. It prioritizes recreational shooting activities such as those found on target ranges. As defined, recreational shooting activities are unrelated to, and potentially at odds with, the unique natural resource values of the various federal land management systems on which they would occur. Under the National Forest Management Act, forest managers manage for the resilience of our national forests so that both current and future generations can benefit from multiple uses of the land. In some cases, managers need the flexibility to stop certain actions to promote long-term use of the forest resources. Requiring that all Forest Service lands be “open unless closed” to hunting, trapping, fishing and shooting is one example of many where this legislation undercuts their ability to do that.
Appropriate management of our public lands plays a critical role in stewardship for biodiversity as well as for recreational opportunities. The natural resource management laws affected by this legislation help ensure well-managed public lands that provide habitat for biodiversity, and maintain healthy populations to help prevent the need for new listings of species under the Endangered Species Act. They work to ensure that our wildlife and public land resources thrive and that hunters, birders and anglers alike can enjoy them for generations to come. By weakening these important laws, the proposed legislation would significantly undermine these important public land values.
6- The bill would remove the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate toxic lead or any other toxic substance used in ammunition or fishing equipment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. A nationwide ban on lead shot in migratory waterfowl hunting was adopted in 1991 after biologists estimated roughly two million ducks died each year from ingesting spent lead pellets. The hunting industry groups that want to prevent the EPA from regulating lead ammunition and fishing tackle are the same groups that protested the ban on lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991. Despite the doom-and-gloom rhetoric, hunters know two decades later that this was a good decision for waterfowl, and didn’t lead to the end of duck or goose hunting. A federal agency should be able to carry out its duties without uncalled for and unscientific laws impeding this process. Such decisions should be left to the discretion of federal agencies based solely on the best available science on the impacts of toxic substances such as lead. Congress should not tie the hands of professional scientists and prevent them from even evaluating or considering future policies to protect the public and the environment.
7- This legislation would allow the import of 41 sport-hunted polar bear trophies. This would be the latest in a series of import allowances that Congress has approved, and the cumulative effect is devastating to our most imperiled species. Despite having notice of the impending prohibition on import of polar bear trophies for sixteen months (between January 2007 and May 2008), a number of trophy hunters went forward with hunts anyway. In fact, the 41 individuals all hunted polar bears AFTER the Bush Administration proposed the species for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and all but one hunted more than a year after the listing was proposed. They were given repeated warnings from hunting organizations and government agencies that trophy imports would likely not be allowed as of the listing date, and that they were hunting at their own risk. If this behavior were rewarded through a congressional waiver, it could accelerate the pace of killing any species proposed for listing in the future, since hunters would believe they could get the trophies in even after the listing becomes final. Each new allowance may involve only a few animals, but the cumulative impacts of these waivers time and time again lead to more reckless trophy killing.
8 – Requires a federal public land management official, in cooperation with the respective state and fish and wildlife agency, to facilitate the use of, and access to, federal public land for hunting, recreational fishing, and recreational shooting; requires the heads of federal public land management agencies to exercise their discretion in a manner that supports and facilitates hunting, recreational fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities, to the extent authorized under applicable law. Requires that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service land, excluding land on the Outer Continental Shelf, be open to hunting, recreational fishing, or recreational shooting unless the managing agency acts to close lands to such activity. Permits closures or restrictions on such land for purposes including resource conservation, public safety, energy or mineral production, energy generation or transmission infrastructure, water supply facilities, national security, or compliance with other law.
This bill is extreme and reckless. It would undermine decades of land management and planning and would topple the delicate balance between allowing for public use and the need to protect public resources. In regards to public land access for recreational hunting and fishing, it is also unnecessary. Hunting and fishing are already permitted on 85% of public lands. This bill’s proponents seek to solve a problem that does not exist, and the legislation they propose could in fact cause serious damage to America’s natural heritage.
Please oppose S. 1996, as well as any of the Senate bills that are companions to individual titles of this legislation – S. 2363, S. 170, S. 847, S. 1335, S. 1634, S. 1660 and S. 1212 – and oppose any effort to attach this legislation to another bill. This legislation is bad for public lands and water resources, bad for fish and wildlife, and bad for the American people.
Honestly after this whole disgusting “sportsmen‘s act,” I want to see every so-called Democrat that voted for this abomination up for election this fall lose. Make the country see what kind of legislation will come out of an all GOP Congress and maybe they will think twice about spitting in the face of environmentalists just to get a couple of votes.
What is even more horrifying is that Richard Freaking Nixon was a far, far, and far more eco-friendly president than President Obama. Obama and the modern Democrats assume that environmentalists will remain part of their “base,” spit in our faces at every turn, and let us down time and time again. When do we say ENOUGH and demand that they follow progressive ideals and stop pandering to anti-environment factions each election cycle? I am tired of voting for the lesser of two evils and then watching the pretend progressives sell out our environment and wildlife at every turn.
I thought that we had seen the worst from this administration after the disgusting 2011 “budget rider” that took away federal protections from wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. But I was wrong. The Obama Administration then stripped Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from the wolf populations in the Great Lakes leading to the mass slaughters that we see in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan each fall. But that still wasn’t enough for Obama and his anti-wildlife administration. Next they proposed stripping all ESA protections from gray wolves across the country with the exception of a tiny population of Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona. But we are still not done. Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Service next wants to further weaken the Endangered Species Act by only offering protections to endangered species where they currently are and not their previous range. Then we have the struggling North Carolina red wolf population in Obama’s cross hairs. Finally there is the latest anti-wildlife act of the Obama Administration by refusing ESA protections for the scarce wolverines in the Northern Rockies. All of this has occurred under a supposedly “progressive” president. This makes me question why right wingers hate Obama so much. He is as anti-wolf/anti-environment as they are. He plays a shell game of pretending to care about “climate change” while eviscerating some of the most vital protection imperiled lands and animals have. I am done defending him and his administration. Am I the only one that feels duped?
Wisconsin’s trick pony senator, Tammy Baldwin, is one of them too. Shame on her and shame on everyone that voted to advance that disgusting anti-wildlife bill. Nice to see that our government cannot find a way to provide healthcare to all citizens because it is big and bad “socialism” yet now we are now in the business of providing shooting ranges and more killing fields on Federal wilderness lands. Nice priorities that this country has. We also have to make sure that trophy hunters get the precious hides of slaughtered polar bears that they killed prior to 1997 into the country. What kind of message does that send? We struggle to deal with the humanitarian crisis on our border yet it is a priority to make sure SCI/NRA shills get their once illegal blood sport trophies into the country? Screw poverty. Screw education. Screw healthcare. Let’s just make sure the rich trophy hunters and ammosexuals are happy. I have given up trying to defend Obama and his administration. They are no better than the GOPers and maybe even worse because of how two faced they are. How about you?
Please take action HERE to contact your senators and demand they reject this reckless anti-wildlife bill.