Zinke opens more wildlife refuges to hunting

Zinke opens more wildlife refuges to hunting
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeBig-game hunters infuriated by Trump elephant trophy debacle Interior moves ahead with opening wildlife refuge next to contaminated nuclear site House panel approves bill to boost park funding MORE on Friday allowed for new or expanded hunting or fishing at 30 wildlife refuges.

The move opens 251,000 new acres to hunting or fishing across the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) refuge system, FWS said. By the 2018-2019 hunting season, 377 refuges will allow hunting and 312 will allow fishing.

The action is part of a wide-ranging effort by Zinke and the Trump administration to promote hunting and fishing, with steps that include opening more federal land to hunters and anglers and changing rules that had prohibited trophy hunters from bringing animal parts into the country.

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The administration argues that hunting and fishing is not only compatible with conservation but enhances it as well.

“American sportsmen and women contribute over a billion dollars a year to fund conservation," Zinke, a hunter himself, said in a Friday statement. "Without hunters and anglers, we wouldn't be able to conserve wildlife and habitat; and, without access to our public lands like national wildlife refuges, many hunters would have nowhere to go."

“The last thing I want to see is hunting to become an elite sport, rather than a tradition passed on from generation to generation," he added. "Today’s announcement protects critical conservation funding, and ensures sportsmen have access to public lands for generations to come.”

Under federal law, hunting and fishing can be permitted on refuges only if officials determine that such activity is consistent with the conservation mission.