Trump Administration To Expand Hunting At National Monuments

Published: Saturday, September 16, 2017 - 8:27pm

The Trump administration is moving to expand hunting, fishing and target shooting at as many U.S. national monuments as possible, under a plan signed Friday by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Target shooting and hunting are prohibited at most of the 129 national monuments, while fishing is currently allowed at many of them. The new plan opens monuments that have previously banned those activities.

Zinke defended the action by citing the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey which tallied 2.2 million fewer hunters in America now than in 2011.

“When the parks were created, the express purpose was to protect all living things in the park including magnificent wildlife, so it would be wholly inappropriate and totally contrary to the mission of the park service if Zinke were to allow hunting in national monuments or national parks," said Randi Spivak, director of the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson.

Secretary Zinke's statement said expanding hunting and fishing is a way to get more people into the outdoors and interested in conservation. According to the announcement, various agencies managing federal lands are to work out next steps.

The action comes as the White House continues to study the interior secretary’s recommended changes to some of the 27 land and sea national monuments he reviewed at the president’s request. The changes could involve reducing the size of various protected areas.

“Depending on if they are going to shrink or lift protections from monuments, my organization, Center for Biological Diversity, and others, we are ready to take Trump to court,” Spivak said. “By and large, this whole thing is really a rouse. It’s to distract people. Because what Zinke and Trump are doing (is) actually accelerating logging, oil and gas development, coal development on public lands. And that destroys habitat.  And if they really want to protect wildlife and conservation, then they should be putting in place greater protections, not about to strip protections."

The existing bans are part of land-management plans adopted by federal agencies that oversee monuments which are designated for protection

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