Ducks Unlimited supports hunting on refuges

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Ducks Unlimited, a world leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation, has stepped forward as a willing participant in a joint intervention to preserve recreational hunting as a compatible use of National Wildlife Refuges.

The move is being made in response to a lawsuit filed by The Fund for Animals, an animal rights organization.

This group seeks to eliminate hunting opportunities on 39 wildlife refuges nationwide, which may lead to reviews of all hunting on the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Awaiting action. Ducks Unlimited and others are awaiting formal participant status in the action.

The motion seeking joint intervention awaits final approval from a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

“Hunting is not the threat to North America’s wildlife populations,” said Ducks Unlimited’s executive vice president, Don Young.

“Habitat loss is the primary threat facing wildlife populations today. Whether you’re talking about ducks, geese, deer, or frogs, habitat conservation is the most fundamental issue affecting the long-term security of North America’s wildlife.

The group also believes that national wildlife refuges are important for public recreation, he said.

Professional opinion. Alan Wentz, group manager of conservation programs, remarked on the importance of allowing professional wildlife managers to decide where to utilize the options available.

“Banning hunting on these refuges would prove detrimental by removing a critical management tool – regulated sport hunting – and by undermining the refuge system’s main source of funding and support – the hunting community.”

Wentz also asserts that these “efforts to stop regulated sport hunting on national wildlife refuges are misguided and create new problems by diverting scarce financial and human resources away from sound management into fighting frivolous lawsuits.”

Financial support. North America’s hunting community annually funnels significant financial support into the nation’s conservation efforts – including national wildlife refuges.

“Through the money spent on license fees, tags, stamps, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, and charitable contributions to habitat conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited, America’s hunters lead the nation in funding wildlife conservation efforts,” said Scott Sutherland, director of governmental affairs.

“Allowing hunting on wildlife refuges is not only legally sound, it’s in the best interest of wildlife and the natural resources we enjoy.”

In fees alone. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hunters and fishermen provided $1.8 billion in 2001 through license fees and taxes alone to help fund conservation efforts nationwide.

The federal duck stamp program, which hunters themselves initiated, requires that hunters annually purchase a stamp to pursue waterfowl.

Since the first Federal Duck Stamp was sold in 1934, waterfowl hunters have contributed about $675 million to purchase more than 5 million acres of wetlands for the wildlife refuge system.

“Ducks Unlimited is a prime example of the tremendous commitment and passion that hunters bring to the conservation world,” said Young.

“It’s fair to say that waterfowl migrations on this continent would be vastly diminished if it weren’t for the commitment of the few hunters who started Ducks Unlimited and the millions of people – including hunters – that continue to support our habitat conservation mission.”

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