In a move signaling continued support of hunters, anglers and trappers, the Trump administration recently clarified an executive order at the request of the Sportsmen’s Alliance that had the potential to limit access and even limit the routine establishment of annual hunting seasons. The clarification is the second time the Trump administration has sided with the Sportsmen’s Alliance in recent weeks, a hopeful trend that could avert a costly lawsuit over a remaining point of contention concerning federal control of National Preserves in Alaska.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance was the only hunting or conservation group to seek clarification of Executive Order 13771, titled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” This Executive Order issued by the Trump Administration is better known as the “one in, two out” Order (for each new regulation added, two old regulations must be repealed) and the “zero net costs” order (for each new regulation added, the costs borne by citizens in complying with that rule must be fully offset by saving benefiting citizens through eliminating some other rule).
The concern was that cautious federal land managers might read the executive order as requiring them to find two rules to repeal before issuing a routine rule opening a hunting, fishing or trapping season and setting bag limits for that season, or might think that they have to conduct a study of the “costs” of opening a season and then find some “savings” to offset those costs before opening the season. Setting bag limits is arguably “regulation” in that bag limits restricts how many animals can be hunted, but is a necessary part of opening seasons.
In a clarification to the executive order issued on April 5, the Trump Administration’s Office of Management and Budget clarified that setting bag limits (the arguably regulatory part of opening a hunting, fishing or trapping season) is considered deregulatory rather than regulatory, and so the “one in, two out” and “zero net costs” restrictions don’t apply. This clears the red tape for federal land managers trying to open seasons, and ensures sportsmen aren’t caught in the crossfire.
“Setting a bag limit or opening new land to hunting might be technically a regulatory, rather than deregulatory action, but it is in practice a necessary part of managing hunting seasons, and the animal-rights movement will seize upon any and all items like this to shut down hunting,” said President and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance, Evan Heusinkveld. “We had some concern that opening up hunting seasons could potentially also have some costs and we wanted to make sure to ask the White House for clarification that those ‘regulations’ were not caught up in these new procedures. The White House responded and made clear that opening up hunting and routine changes to seasons and bag limits are not subject to the new cost-based procedures.”
The clarification is the second federal victory for the Sportsmen’s Alliance and hunters everywhere. The first coming in late March, when President Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 into law. The resolution reversed the Obama-era rule changes for National Wildlife Refuge lands in Alaska, which redefined and usurped predator management control from the state and banned many traditional and biologically necessary methods of controlling wolf, grizzly and black bear populations.
Similar misguided management rules were also enacted by the Department of the Interior for preserves, which are managed by the National Parks Service, on October 23, 2015. This is too long ago for Congress to overturn with a simple majority vote in the Senate. Instead, it would require 60 votes in the Senate, which is too many to realistically expect (52 Senators voted to overturn the refuge rule).
“We hope that President Trump’s trend of keeping his campaign promises to sportsmen continues and that his administration takes action to reverse the same misbegotten rule changes on National Preserves,” said Heusinkveld.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with the Alaska Professional Hunter’s Association, filed suit in February to negate the rules changes and return wildlife management decisions to wildlife biologists in the state. Without further administrative action by the Trump Administration, the lawsuit will continue to move forward, but will only challenge the rules limiting state management of hunting on National Preserves in Alaska.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.