The Humane Society of the United States is opposing plans by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand recreational hunting on wildlife refuges in Massachusetts and nine other states. The USFWS is taking public comments on the plan through September 3.
The HSUS is focusing on the Massachusetts because hunting is currently not allowed on the Great Meadows and Assabet River refuges in that state. Such hunting would be allowed as early as this October if the USFWS plan goes through.
The HSUS opposes all hunting in wildlife refuges. In a 2003 press release about the possibility of opening up hunting in the Great Meadows and Assabet River refuges, the HSUS said,
A wildlife refuge should be just that: a refuge for wildlife. It should be one place in which animals are safe from the hunting and trapping already allowed on both public and private lands in Massachusetts.
HSUS’ Heidi Prescott told the MetroWest Daily News,
We believe the Fish and Wildlife Service is compromising the biological and ecological integrity of our national wildlife refuges by providing hunters the opportunity to kill the animals that live on the wildlife refuges.
HSUS also has a pending lawsuit that goes to the heart of what sort of evaluation of the impact of hunting must be conducted prior to expanding hunting in wildlife refuges. HSUS maintains that the USFWS has to prepare an environmental impact statement. USFWS says that the environmental impact statements are unnecessary since the agency has conducted environmental assessments that found expanded hunting would not impact its mission of maintaining habitat in the refuges, and might even promote species diversity by lowering deer population levels.
Currently, according to HSUS, hunting is allowed on more than half of all federal wildlife refuges.
Animal rights group blasts hunting plan. Jfon Brodkin, MetroWest Daily News, August 12, 2005.
Reject Hunting and Trapping at Massachusetts Refuges. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, August 15, 2003.