As if dumping more chemicals into the environment, rolling back emission standards, weakening the Endangered Species Act and opening pristine lands to energy interests wasn’t enough of an assault on the environment and animals, the Trump Administration announced this month that it is expanding hunting and fishing in more than 70 national wildlife refuges.
The move will allow hunting on 2,200 square miles of federally protected land in 37 states, the New York Times reported.
This means hunters will be running around firing at wildlife in lands that are critical habitat for migrating birds and waterfowl. The expansion allows hunting for the first time in seven wildlife refuges and essentially gives states the power to manage lands owned by the federal government.
The expansion also comes at a time when hunting in the U.S. is in rapid decline. Less than 5 percent of the U.S. adult population hunts, a decline from 7 percent in 1991. And hunting is not without risk to humans as well. There have been 8,500 shooting incidents across the country handled by the U.S. Forest Service and since 2011 more than 60 people have been killed in hunting incidents and 500 injured in six major hunting states alone.
There are currently 550 national wildlife refuges in the U.S. Expanding hunting and allowing shooting at national refuges when wildlife watching is rapidly rising and the country is besieged by mass shootings is senseless, cruel and deserves one of our loudest jeers.