Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Presidental Executive Order regarding hunting


You might think that the President of the U.S. would have little to do with the hunting policies of the public and federal lands other than choosing a Secretary of the Interior…but you’d be wrong.

At least with this particular president. Ron sent me a link from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:

BUSH ORDERS FEDERAL AGENCIES TO PROMOTE HUNTING — Refuges, Forests and Grasslands Directed to Maximize “Hunting Opportunities”

Washington, DC — A vacationing President Bush issued an Executive Order directing federal land management agencies to “expand and enhance hunting opportunities.” While the order does not overturn any conservation laws, it establishes a preference for hunting at the expense of all other activities in the administration of federal lands, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Although the order explicitly covers national forests, wildlife refuges and range lands, it also applies to all federal agencies “that have a measurable effect on land management,” such as military bases and nuclear weapon reservations. These federal agencies must now “evaluate the effect of [their] actions on trends in hunting participation [and] consider the economic and recreational value of hunting in agency actions.”

“This is political meddling posing as a conservation policy,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “This order reads like it was written by a lobbyist.”

Issued this Friday, August 17, 2007, the order mandates that federal land managers –

  • “Manage wildlife and wildlife habitats on public lands in a manner that expands and enhances hunting opportunities, including through the use of hunting in wildlife management”;
  • Defer to “private property rights and State management authority over wildlife resources” and
  • Foster “productive populations of game species and appropriate opportunities for the public to hunt those species.”

“The President seems to be saying you can never have too many deer and that public lands should be run as a salad bar for trophy animals,” Ruch added. “It would have made more sense to have Dick Cheney sign this executive order instead.”

The edict does provide that any actions should be “consistent with agency missions.” Further, it stipulates that the directive “does not create any right…or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States [or] its departments…”

“This may amount to no more than meaningless pandering to the ‘hook and bullet’ vote but, if vigorously implemented, has the potential to change what happens on the ground,” Ruch concluded, noting that most federal lands except national parks already allow hunting. “There appears to be no shortage of hunting opportunities; perhaps the reason for the decline in hunting licenses lies elsewhere.”

The action enshrines an entity called the Sporting Conservation Council, created by outgoing Interior Secretary Gale Norton in 2006, to help develop “a comprehensive Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan [setting] forth a 10 year agenda for fulfilling” the goals of the Executive Order.

I wish I could say that this surprised me, but it doesn’t. We have an administration that has proven again and again that the environment takes a backseat to profit and to their personal entertainment. Rules are bent over and over. Ethics and morals are ignored.

So, in the face of this, what can we do? I talked to Ron about this, who talked to a cougar advocate. For now, we have to write letters. We need to contact our state governors, the Director of the USFWS, and the US Fish and Wildlife Regional Directors.

Contact information:

It might not seem like much, to write letters, but keep in mind that hunters are just as much a minority as we are. In fact, the “promote hunting at all costs” is likely to be something that even those not opposed to hunting will not support. Proclamations like this go unnoticed even by many animal advocates, which is one reason they get away with it. Let’s let our voice be heard, let’s shame them into reversing this order before it is too late.

bariloche trek


9 responses to “Presidental Executive Order regarding hunting

  1. Pingback: University Update - Dick Cheney - Presidental Executive Order regarding hunting

  2. Ron August 27, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Good Morning Deb,

    First, that last mountainous photo is beautiful and a reminder that mankind’s attempt at meddling with the environment is woefully inept when compared to the natural world…I often visit your site just to view your excellent photography.

    Thank you for posting the Executive Order. I attempted to contact the person responsible for posting national news releases on this important USFWS site but I have not received a response:

    The person’s (Chris Tollefson) contact information is here:

    The Virtual News Room (VNR) is the best site to keep abreast of important FWS news, when they release it. The site is available to everyone.

    The EO is a very important topic to the wildlife community and should at least be posted on the VNR because it has the potential of usurping federal mandates and the mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service; it deserves extensive news coverage.

  3. Mary Martin, Ph.D. August 27, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    I was so enraged until I looked at the photo, then I think my blood pressure normalized. Interesting juxtaposition.

    Thanks for alerting me about this, Deb. Down here in Florida we too are constantly faced with the reality that “conservation” is a euphemism for “planned killing,” and that “management” seems to be advocated for every population (particularly alligators down here) but the one that really needs it: us.

  4. rich August 27, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    I think we do need to write to the officials listed as well as to some media outlets. We also need to make sure that we do not support candidates that are hunters. I was reminded about this when John Kerry went hunting during his campaign. I once saw on a pro-gun/hunting site that Kerry was very anti-gun when Gore ran and it appears that he only ever hunted one time prior to the canned hunt he did right before the Iowa caucus.
    We need to make sure that candidates do not bow to the NRA/hunting vote.

  5. Deb August 27, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Ron, thanks for that link. I’ve subscribed to their listserve, though of course it would be more helpful if it was complete, as you said. I’ll send an email to Chris Tollefson as well regarding this. I really appreciate all your help, Ron, in alerting me and getting the contact info together!

    Mary, maybe I used the wrong photo! I should have used something that would get people fired up, not calmed down. lol.

    I hate that nice sounding terms are used for hunting and assisted-breeding for hunting (essentially), and while I keep trying to remind myself that there are people like Ron out there, who really are focused on what is best for the wildlife populations and the environment (even if we might not always agree completely on all the issues). Then things like this happen, and it is hard to be anything other than cynical.

    Rich, good point about the media. I don’t have any media contacts, but I did contact a national organization in hopes that they’d get the word out to the animal advocates, at least. Maybe they’ll have some way of getting this in the media’s eyes. If anyone else has any ideas on that, run with it please!

    And good point about the politicians as well. Though we end up with so few to choose from, it might be impossible (especially in certain parts of the country) but we can definitely write to those candidates who are not hunters and tell them that it matters to us. Might prevent the stupid antics such as those of Kerry.

  6. Ron August 29, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Mary, and rich, thanks for your comments. Deb, although we might not always agree on the issues, all of us here want basic fairness and rights for all domesticated animals and wildlife who are voiceless in speech but who are vociferous in pain inflicted on them unnecessarily by humankind.

  7. Pingback: Consequences of mismanagement at Kofa NWR « Invisible Voices

  8. Preserve the Herds September 10, 2007 at 8:38 am

    While it is CONSTANTLY disturbing to see the continued exploitation of public resources by the current administration, this Order will severly impact the few remaining wild horses and burros in America, which I believe was one of its main intentions.
    Already, land management officials place their preservation, critical habitat needs, viable populations, etc. at the very bottom rung of the land management ladder and big game animals often are given preference in management actions through their designations as Priority Species and Special Status, big horn sheep being the most prized of all.

    In the year 2000, the Desert Big Horn population in the Southwest was estimated at 20,000 adults. This population level earned them the title as one of the “Rarest Ungulates in the Southwest”. A recent article in July 2007 stated the North American population was now estimated at 50,000.

    Meanwhile, since 2001, the BLM has removed over 70,000 wild horses and burros from public lands and in December 2006, announced at the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Meeting that they have finally achieved the national population target they had been striving for – under 24,556 wild horses and 2,965 wild burros.

    So which of these three species is really the rarest ungulate?

    Big horn sheep earn MAJOR hunting revenue and Fish & Game Departments focus extraordinary amounts of resources to expannd their populations. At one event in 2005, over 2.2 million dollars was raised in the auctioning of 20 hunting tags with the highest tag receiving $199,000 in AZ and second place went to NM for $177,800.

    In the environmental assessments that BLM produces, these “wildlife populations” are always given preference to the wild horses and burros themselves.

    The fly in the ointment, so to speak, is that wild horses and burros are a federally protected species and big game animals are not. Thus, the neccesity of an Executive Order that now commands a “federal status” to trump wild horse and burro preservation and federal law.

    Fish & Game departments often work with ranchers and livestock grazing because a) they know they are powerful and don’t want to disturb the “status quo” and b) half the time the ranchers ARE the hunters!

    Rather than reduce forage allocations from livestock grazing to supplement the ever-expanding big game populations, they first look to see if they can take it from the wild horses and burros of the area.

    Now they have the “official” authority they were lacking to implement this latest threat on the herds that are being “managed to extinction”.

  9. Deb September 12, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you for all that information, PTH. I only knew it vaguely. I took a quick look at your website, and it was packed with information. I’ll check it out in more detail soon! Thanks for commenting.

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