Hey hunters, don’t vote against protecting public lands

Hunting and angling groups said Trump would represent their interests — but they were wrong.

 

Ted Williams is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News (hcn.org). He writes the monthly “Recovery” column for The Nature Conservancy’s online magazine Cool Green Science.


“I’m a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist,” declares Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Really? Roosevelt pushed and ultimately signed the Antiquities Act of 1906 that gave presidents the authority to create national monuments. He then established 18 of them. But now, at President Trump’s request, Zinke works to open national monuments to fossil fuel extraction.

Hunters and anglers say they are astonished and outraged. But without their support, Trump wouldn’t be president and Zinke wouldn’t be running Interior. If sportsmen read newspapers instead of hook-and-bullet rags, they’d have understood that state seizure of public lands is a plank in the GOP platform and that state lands get sold off or reserved for extractive industry.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail.

In a Petersen’s Hunting piece entitled “Why Sportsmen Should Vote for Donald Trump” the magazine’s editor reveals his reaction to meeting the candidate: “My heart started to pound, my breath coming in short gulps.”

A group calling itself Sportsmen for Trump offered this: “Mr. Trump is the only candidate that will represent our values.”

“We as hunters, anglers and Americans can chalk this day up as a win for our sport,” effused Outdoorhub on Trump’s inauguration.

“Zinke a Good Choice as Interior Secretary,” proclaimed Bowhunting.com.

As a condition for entering the Union, most Western states agreed to disclaim all right to unappropriated public lands. In exchange, the federal government gave them “trust lands” with which to generate revenue through sale and development. So far, Utah has sold off 4.1 million acres of its trust lands, New Mexico 4 million, Montana 800,000, Idaho 1.5 million, Colorado 1.7 million, Arizona 1.7 million. Of the 2.7 million acres given to Nevada, only 3,000 acres remain.

One might suppose that the state wildlife professionals who belong to the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies would work for the best interests of the hunting- and fishing-license buyers who help pay their salaries. Instead, they led the successful charge against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule to reassert control of the American public’s 73 million acres of national wildlife refuges in Alaska. Necessitating that rule was the Board’s attempt to convert both federal and state lands to a vast Stop & Shop for moose and caribou meat by killing off bears and wolves.

Traditionally, the Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed states to manage wildlife on the agency’s refuges, but things got so out of hand in Alaska it had to protect the public’s wildlife from the Board’s 1920s-style predator jihad. As then-Director Dan Ashe wrote in the Aug. 3, 2016, Huffington Post: “The Alaska Board of Game has unleashed a withering attack on bears and wolves that is wholly at odds with America’s long tradition of ethical, sportsmanlike, fair-chase hunting. … There comes a time when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must stand up for the authorities and principles that underpin our work and say, ‘no.’”

That thinking doesn’t compute with Congress or the Trump administration. In April, the president signed legislation repealing the federal wildlife agency’s Alaska refuge rule. On federal lands Alaska now allows the shooting of grizzly and brown bears over bait, shooting mother bears with cubs as well as killing the cubs themselves, shooting bears and wolves from planes, and dispatching wolves and wolf pups in their dens.

When the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies attacked Ashe for standing up for the wildlife that belongs to all Americans it was joined by The Pope and Young Club, Quail Forever, Orion the Hunters Institute, Pheasants Forever, Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone and Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, Quality Deer Management Association and Safari Club, to mention just a few.

The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Consider some of the pious statements issuing from these same groups on the issue of public lands remaining in public hands.  

Pope and Young Club, Quail Forever, Orion the Hunters Institute, Pheasants Forever, Wild Sheep Foundation: “As sportsmen-based organizations, we are alarmed that some decision makers are promoting the idea that federal public lands should be transferred to individual states.”

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: “Transferring or selling these lands to states … may also close the door to public access for hunters, anglers, hikers and others.”

Boone and Crockett Club: “Federal lands are the foundation of the most successful conservation system in the world.”

Ducks Unlimited: “We do not believe it would be constructive to … liquidate the national interest in federal land management.”

Compounding their hypocrisy, these groups were virtually silent about the felonious, 41-day armed occupation and trashing of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

With friends like the publications that “educate” them and the organizations that “represent” them, hunters and anglers don’t need enemies.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST
    Idaho Walk Bike Alliance seeks a lover of bicycling, walking, and all modes of active transportation who willingly puts the car in the garage and...
  • COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
    Friends of Inyo - the Communications Director is a full-time permanent position that reports to the Executive Director and utilizes communication strategies and production skills...
  • INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR
    High Country News seeks an editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk. This individual will lead a team of passionate journalists...
  • HIKING TO THE EDGE:
    Confronting Cancer in Rocky Mountain National Park. Poetry and photos on survival thinking. E-book and paperback available at Amazon.com.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has grown into America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more than...
  • IPLC RIGHTS AND EQUITY PROGRAM ASSOCIATE
    A LITTLE ABOUT US Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FUTURE WEST
    Future West seeks an executive director to lead this dynamic organization into the future. Based in Bozeman, MT this well-respected nonprofit provides communities in the...
  • PART-TIME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Mitchell Museum of the American Indian Location: Evanston, IL Salary Range: $45,000 @ 24 hours per week. send resume: [email protected] www.mitchellmuseum.org
  • COMMUNICATIONS LEAD
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR
    Since 1989, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on....
  • OUTDOOR PROGRAM - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
    St. Lawrence University seeks to fill the position of Assistant Director in the Outdoor Program. To view the complete position description, including minimum qualifications required,...
  • PUBLIC LANDS DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement Conserve Southwest Utah is seeking a dedicated advocate for conservation and public lands Public Lands Director a "make a difference" position Conserve Southwest...
  • FOR SALE
    Yellowstone Llamas Successful Yellowstone NP concession Flexible packages
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is seeking a full-time Director of Development & Marketing. This is a senior position responsible for the development of all marketing...
  • LEGAL DIRECTOR
    The Legal Director will work closely with the Executive Director in cultivating a renewed vision at NMELC that integrates diversity, equity, and justice. Black, Indigenous,...
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    The Vice President for Landscape Conservation leads Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing on four program areas: federal public lands management; private lands...
  • WE'RE LOOKING FOR LEADERS!
    As we celebrate 50 years of great Western journalism, High Country News is looking for a few new board members to help set a course...
  • WIND RIVER WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS RETREAT BY THE NATIONAL BIGHORN SHEEP CENTER
    Enhance your writing or photography skills with world-class instructors in the beautiful Wind River Mountains. All skill levels welcome. Continuing education credits available.
  • EARTH CRUISER FX FOR SALE
    Overland Vehicle for travel on or off road. Fully self contained. Less than 41,000 miles. Recently fully serviced Located in Redmond, OR $215'000.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    identifies suspect buried trash, tanks, drums &/or utilities and conducts custom-designed subsurface investigations that support post-damage litigation.