Protected areas are there for the benefit of both animals and humans. Not only does it increase wildlife populations but it also offers a fantastic area for human recreation. However, in an attempt to increase access to public lands, the Interior Department has released a proposal for increased hunting and fishing access to 1.4 million acres across 46 states, which would completely detract from the point of having them in first place.
On Wednesday, the plan announced would see 74 national wildlife refuges opened up and 15 national fish hatcheries operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will now be open to outdoor sporting enthusiasts. David Bernhardt, US Interior Secretary, said in a statement that hunting and fishing are more than just traditional pastimes for the average citizen. He believes they are vital to the conservation of the environment and the land around it, as well as the American way of life. He goes on to say that the refuges and hatcheries in question offer incredible opportunities for sportsmen and women, as well as their families, all over the country to pass on a fishing and hunting heritage to future generations and connect with wildlife in a different way.
Changing all the rules at these refuges, the department plans to make sure the regulations more closely match state regulations. Last September, land managers of the Interior Department compared federal and state hunting and fishing regulations with a goal of streamlining policies in all 50 states. These new plans further these policy alignments. While there are plenty of people who support these changes saying that hunting has long been the best conservation method, it’s part of American culture, with one Twitter user posting the word; ‘Awesome’, not everyone agrees.
Despite all the support from some, there are large numbers of people disagreeing with the proposed changes. Twitter has blown up with huge amounts of people saying what a bad idea this is. “Visit them while you still can” says one person, while another points out that the rules and regulations surrounding the refuges were put in place for a reason. A lot of the refuges that don’t currently allow any killing of animals will soon open up hunting of a wide range of animals such as deer and elk, which is going to upset a huge number of American citizens and environmentalists alike.
The proposal is set to be finalised in September, ahead of the 2019-2020 hunting seasons. In 2016 alone, hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits contributed over $156 billion in economic activity across the United States, which the department highlighted in the release.
There are a lot of good arguments for both side but as others have pointed out, the rules were put in Place for a reason and so it probably isn’t a good idea to change them. The world has already seen the extinction of so many animals and hundreds more are at risk. Allowing the hunting and fishing in these protected areas could increase this. Before you know it, a large number of species would be on the brink of extinction.