December 8, 2008
Interior Announces Final Firearms Policy Update for National Parks and Refuges
“WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Lyle Laverty today announced that the Department of the Interior has finalized updated regulations governing the possession of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The final rule, which updates existing regulations, would allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges if, and only if, the individual is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located. The update has been submitted to the Federal Register for publication and is available to the public on www.doi.gov. Existing regulations regarding the carrying of firearms remain otherwise unchanged, particularly limitations on poaching and target practice and prohibitions on carrying firearms in federal buildings. ‘America was founded on the idea that the federal and state governments work together to serve the public and preserve our natural resources,’ Laverty said. ‘The Department’s final regulation respects this tradition by allowing individuals to carry concealed firearms in federal park units and refuges to the extent that they could lawfully do so under state law. This is the same basic approach adopted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS), both of which allow visitors to carry weapons consistent with applicable federal and state laws.’” Please click HERE to read the full release.
SCI and New Jersey Hunting Clubs Encourage Action on Bear Hunt
SCI and the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs have sent a letter to the New Jersey Fish and Game Council encouraging the Council to take further action to adopt policies that would allow the state to hold a much needed black bear hunt. The Council favors a hunt. Governor Corzine and the head of his environmental agency, however, have stalled a hunt by refusing to approve bear policies put forth by the Council. Meanwhile, human-bear incidents – including dangerous Category I encounters – continue to rise at an alarming rate. Following bear hunts in 2003 and 2005, all categories of black bear incidents decreased. In years following court or Governor blocked hunts, including the last two years, incidents have risen markedly.
Polar Bear Lawsuits Consolidated in D.C.
In a move supported by SCI, a panel of Federal judges transferred a case brought by animal and environmental groups (e.g., Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace) regarding the listing of the polar bear to Washington D.C. to be consolidated with cases brought by SCI and others. The case had been pending in the District Court for the Northern District of California. That court earlier ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make the listing decision by May 15, 2008 and to make the decision effectively immediately. These rulings harmed SCI members trying to import trophies from Canada. SCI’s cases in D.C. include a challenge to the listing of the polar bear under the ESA and a challenge to the import ban that arose because of the listing. Now, the same judge in D.C. will hear all the cases together.
Condor Lead Ammunition Ban Expanded by Court Settlement
A legal settlement approved by the Court has expanded the lead ammunition ban currently in place in Condor “range” in California, an expansive area in south and central California. The settlement requires the California fish and game agencies to ban the use of lead ammunition for killing animals under “depredation” permits, effective immediately. The settlement also requires the agencies to propose a regulation in May 2009 banning lead ammunition in the taking of jackrabbits and other hares, several species of rabbit, and tree squirrels in Condor range. The groups involved in the lawsuit, including the Center for Biological Diversity, have vowed to push for a ban on lead ammunition for all hunting throughout the state.
Judge in Maine Further Restricts Trapping in Lynx Habitat
In ruling on a request for widespread restrictions on trapping in Maine, a Federal judge ordered the State to restrict the use of conibear traps in Lynx range, but rejected requests by animal rights groups for further widespread restrictions. The state has already imposed restrictions on trapping under the settlement of another lawsuit. When lynx continued to be incidentally trapped, different animal rights groups sued the state again, claiming that allowing trapping in lynx range amounts to a “take” of the species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The state is trying to obtain an “incidental take permit” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which would authorize the “take” of some lynx during trapping. The judge recognized this fact but ordered restrictions on conibear traps because a lynx was recently accidentally killed by one of these traps. SCI continues to monitor and participate in this type of case because of its potential precedent regarding hunting in areas in which ESA listed species exist.
Nominate a 2010 SCI Foundation Conservation Artist of the Year Candidate Today!
Nominations for the 2010 SCI Foundation Conservation Artist of the Year Award are now being accepted. This program recognizes one renowned wildlife artist each year who donates an original painting for auction at the SCI Convention. 100% of the auction proceeds are then donated to the SCI Foundation to implement cutting edge conservation projects. To nominate an artist, please email the contact information of your nomination to Emma Mutinda, SCIF Conservation Program Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org, by January 1st 2009.