Elk NetworkConcern Grows Over Backroom Talks to Frustrate Public Access to Public Land

General | April 14, 2022

Below is a news release from Sportsman’s Alliance, a partner group of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

On April 1, the Center for Biological Diversity, U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered a joint motion to extend a stay of proceedings concerning the 2020 expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on 2.2 million acres within the National Wildlife Refuge system.

More concerning is that the parties have exchanged settlement offers.

“Sportsmen have no idea what’s in these offers. It could be the end of a single hunting season on specific refuges or a prohibition on the use of lead ammunition or all hunting on refuges nationwide. We just don’t know because the administration isn’t communicating with us,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Obviously, nothing good for sportsmen could result from any mitigation offer coming from or appeasing radical environmental activists challenging the accepted and legal expansion of hunting and fishing on wildlife refuges.”

The Sportsmen’s Alliance first reported the original joint motion to stay and settlement talks between Center for Biological Diversity and the Biden Administration on Feb. 15. On March 8, the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International and National Rifle Association filed a motion to intervene and dismiss the case. Since then, more than 40 sportsmen’s organizations have opposed the settlement talks.

Currently, Center for Biological Diversity is considering the counteroffer from the federal government. The stay would now expire on June 7.

The 60-day extension coincides with the annual USFW publishing of 2022-23 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations governing refuges, which will take place by the end of May. The extension further hands Center for Biological Diversity negotiating power as they can review the counteroffer and any proposed rule changes before deciding to settle or continue with legal action.

“It’s unbelievable that settlement talks are taking place without input from the leading sportsman advocacy groups,” said Heusinkveld. “The expansion of hunting and fishing on wildlife refuges has a long precedent and we’ve already litigated, and won, a similar case in 2004.”

(Photo credit:  Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)