The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is facing legal action after its decision to expand hunting. The decision also creates more hunting access at nearly 150 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries.
According to its website, the agency protects endangered species and the nation’s nature refuges. It also manages migratory birds, restores nationally significant fisheries, and enforces federal laws. Most recently, the FWS decided to expand hunting privileges at 147 wildlife refuges.
The Hill reports that the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the agency earlier this week. The agency argues that the government didn’t fully analyze the impact of the decision to endangered species including birds and jaguars.
The center’s carnivore conservation director Collette Adkins says the lawsuit is to ensure refuges provide a safe place for wildlife.
“We’re going to court to ensure that our nation’s wildlife refuges can actually provide refuges for wildlife,” she said. “We have never seen such as a massive expansion of bad hunting practices on these public lands. There is no sound reason for this, and the fish and wildlife service has either ignored or downplayed the many risks that hunting poses to endangered wildlife.”
Wildlife in Potential Danger
Earlier this year, FWS finalized a rule opening up hunting and fishing in an additional 2.3 million acres. Officials say the measure creates better access for sportsman.
“We continue to take significant actions to further conservation initiatives and support sportsmen and women who are America’s true conservationists,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said of the announcement.
Environmentalist have said the weaker protections my harm delicate ecosystems and potentially hurt protected species by allowing hunters to go after more predators. They fear animals could be accidentally shot or hurt by lead-based ammunition and tackle could be toxic to birds.
It isn’t the first the Trump administration has come under fire for granting hunting access. The administration was sued over its decision to ease restrictions on hunting bear cubs at preserves in Alaska.