All of these refuges where established by
Congress, many as "inviolate" sanctuaries. As with everything
else Congress gets its grubby little hands on, the NWRS has been
subject to a lot of influence peddling. Consequently, in the
1980s, refuges were required to be open to all "compatible
uses." Wildlife then had to "co-exist" with
hunting, fishing, trapping, jet-skiing, cattle grazing, dune-buggy
oil drilling, and the activities of the U.S. military.
Finally, in the 1990s, the pro-wildlife Clinton
supporters got together and enacted The National Wildlife Refuge
System Improvement Act which directed that "conservation" be
the System’s primary purpose. This eliminated some of the detrimental
activities but not all and especially not hunting, fishing,
and trapping, which continue on many refuges.
The Improvement Act also required that refuges
file a comprehensive conservation plan every 15 years. Because
these plans are subject to public input, hunters, anglers,
and trappers can put pressure on refuge managers to continue
these activities. In addition, the waterfowl hunting community
has misled the public into thinking that they buy refuge land
because they are required to buy a $15 duck stamp, the proceeds
of which do go toward the acquisition of refuge land. What
they don’t tell you is that, being sold at U.S. post offices,
duck stamps can be purchased by anyone, and many people do
collect them, not just waterfowl hunters.
You are concerned about wildlife, otherwise
you wouldn’t be reading this. Here are some things you can
do to help return refuges to their original purpose.
Write a letter to the director of the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, telling him you are opposed to hunting,
fishing, and trapping being allowed on refuges. Write to: Dr.
Steve Williams, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1849
C St., NW, Washington, DC 20240. Send a copy of your letter to
the managers of the refuges in your state. You can get this information
Write to your representative and senators
in Congress, telling them you are opposed to oil drilling in
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Make sure they are too. If
they aren’t, organize a letter-writing campaign to put pressure
on them to change their views.
Check with the manager of the refuge near you
and see when the next 15-year plan is due. Tell the manager you
want to receive a draft of the plan so you can make comments.
Ronda Roaring is Executive Director of the New York
State Coalition for Animals, 571 South Danby Rd., Spencer, NY
14883, 607-589-4031, [email protected] .