Division of Conservation Planning and Policy
National Wildlife Refuge System
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203
September 11, 2003
Dear Sir or Madam:
Wildlife Watch, Inc. is an animal
protection organization that educates the public about the mismanagement of
wildlife by state and federal wildlife agencies, and the destruction of
wildlife and ecosystems in the name of sport hunting and game management.
We have approximately 65,000 supporters throughout the country. On their
behalf, we strongly oppose any efforts that would increase, expand, or
authorize any new hunting, fishing, trapping, or other consumptive uses of
wildlife within any of the Refuges of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).
To call these areas Refuges is a misnomer.
Originally conceived by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 to protect
wildlife from those who would harm them, the NWRS has failed to live up to
its original mission. The proposal by the Fish and Wildlife Service to open
hunting and/or fishing opportunities for the first time on seven refuges and
to expand those opportunities on three other refuges is nothing short of a
betrayal of the spirit in which the Refuges were established, and a proposal
that will result in the degradation of these nearly undeveloped lands.
According to a 1989 General Accounting
Office report to Congress, Refuge managers at seventy-seven of the 163 units
that then allowed hunting identified “waterfowl hunting,” “small game
hunting,” or “hunting dog field trials” as “harmful uses” of their Refuge
units and should be “discontinued” immediately. The general public supports
the opinion of most Refuge managers, as indicated by an opinion poll
conducted by Decision Research in 1999. When the results of the poll were
tallied it was found that 78% of Americans oppose hunting and trapping on
National Wildlife Refuges.
Given that Refuges are funded through tax
dollars paid by the public, the great majority of whom do not kill animals
for sport, it is outrageous that the lands and
animals living within the NWRS are
to serve a tiny minority who wishes them harm. Far more revenue is
generated by non-consumptive users of Wildlife refuges, than by hunters and
Because we believe the expansion and/or
continuation of consumptive uses of wildlife within the NWRS to be a crime
against our humanity and the natural world, we vehemently oppose any effort
made by the USFWS to expand hunting within the NWRS.
Your reply will be greatly appreciated.