Hunting rifle hunter orange
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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By Lawrence G. Keane

Two anti-hunting groups are making a move to kill hunting. They’re looking to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Department of the Interior (DOI) to publish a rule that would eliminate transporting harvested wild animals and most birds across state lines.

It is the most serious threat to hunting in the United States since Dan Ashe, former USFWS director, attempted to ban the use of traditional ammunition on federal lands. That attempt was rolled back by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. This attempt must be turned back by every hunter in America.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council are co-opting COVID-19 fears to push their radical anti-hunting agenda in a petition to the USFWS and DOI. They are ignoring reports of China’s potential complicity on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they are faulting hunters as potential pathogen pathways and attempting to end hunting even in neighboring states.

The petition claims, “Pandemics caused by zoonoses – infectious diseases that jump from animals to people – are entirely preventable.” The mechanisms they would impose include a complete ban on interstate transport of not just live animals, but also the meat, hide, horns, antlers and skulls of harvested animals.

The petition doesn’t discriminate between a ban on species harvested internationally. It also targets hunters who take animals in other states and transport them home, even if they’ve been professionally prepared by a butcher or taxidermist to safeguard against the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

The groups’ petition would amend the Lacey Act regulations to prohibit the importation, transportation or acquisition of wild animals. Since the USFWS regulates interstate transportation and importation of wild animals, that’s a death knell to hunting in the United States.

deer hunting
Nick Leghorn for TTAG

That means the trophy Texas buck wouldn’t be able to be brought home to Virginia, or South Dakota pheasants to South Carolina. A lifetime dream hunt of a Rocky Mountain elk would never fill a Florida freezer and an Alaska bear rug would never be able to come home to Oklahoma.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The two anti-hunting groups – Center for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council – are known extremist anti-hunting groups. Center for Biological Diversity has made suing the government a cottage industry. They host a page on their website boasting of suing the Trump administration 266 times. They attacked hunting by suing the Environmental Protection Agency for denying a previous petition to ban traditional ammunition. A federal judge dismissed that suit.

More recently, Center for Biological Diversity appealed a U.S. District Court’s decision to dismiss their allegation that the U.S. Forest Service allowing hunters to use traditional ammunition in Arizona’s Kaibob National Forest is a violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The group alleges that hunters shooting traditional ammunition is the same as industrial dumping of lead waste. The case was dismissed three times but is being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for the third time.

Natural Resources Defense Council has been party to many of the same lawsuits as Center for Biological Diversity. They found a cash cow in suing the federal government and agreeing to settle, particularly with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They use tactics, including this one with the USFWS and DOI, to petition for a rule change and then sue the agencies when they believe the federal agency is taking too long.

Natural Resources Defense Council sued the USFWS when wolves were delisted from the Endangered and Threatened Species Lists. They were also party to the legal actions to end delisting the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Dan Z for TTAG

The actions by these two groups to limit the ability for hunters to move legally harvested wildlife across state lines is a direct threat over 15 million people who buy hunting licenses in America each year. That’s particularly concerning as the COVID-19 pandemic saw an unexpected surge in hunting license sales and hunters enrolling in safety courses to obtain licenses.

One report showed hunting license sales were up by five percent overall, with a growth of 15 percent of women purchasing hunting licenses. New hunters showed a 26 percent increase in 2020. These new hunters would be frozen out from experiencing different hunting traditions in other regions of America. They would be shuttered from hunting wild animals that exist in states other than their home state.

Hunting is Conservation

What’s more is these two groups are attempting to impose legislation through regulation. By petitioning the USFWS and DOI to promulgate rules to end the ability for hunters to fill their coolers in another state and bring home the meat, hides, antlers and horns, they’re attempting to bypass the legislative process. They’re abusing a rule-making process to impose a radical anti-hunting agenda without lawmaker input. That’s concerning since 23 states enacted laws or have it written into their state constitution of an individual’s right to hunt and fish.

It’s not just hunting and hunters that would be harmed by this petition. The wildlife these groups claim to protect would be devastated by the potential harmful impacts. The North American Wildlife Model is predicated on hunting as a management tool and is responsible for the rebound and abundant wildlife all Americans enjoy. Further, wildlife belongs to the public, not special interest groups. This is what makes it possible for all Americans to enjoy the outdoors for recreation, including hunting. It’s not a benefit of wealth or privilege.

JWT hunting

The firearm industry has played a pivotal role in this success. Excise taxes collected from firearm and ammunition manufacturers are responsible for the recovery of America’s wildlife through the Pittman-Robertson Act, which has contributed over $14.1 billion since its inception in 1937.

The petition to halt hunting in its tracks is beyond irresponsible. It is dangerous and potentially harmful to America’s wild scenes. This is a moment not just for USFWS and DOI to reject political special interests, but for every hunter, outdoorsman and woman to recognize how extremist organizations are weaponizing government bureaucracies against them.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.



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  1. Concern with zoonoses from people who make tik-tok videos of them kissing their cats and letting their dogs eat out of their mouths.

  2. The “plague” was a godsend for all these fascists who want to control people and eliminate the things THEY disagree with!

  3. There are hunters out there who are lapdogs and fall for knee jerk Gun Control at the drop of a hat. It is no person’s business what kind of weapon you own or how many rounds you have or how many rounds magazines hold, etc. That is because when you are cornered by a pervert the gasbags sitting on their “I’ve been huntin all my life” butts are nowhere to be found. This some hunter crap, “if you cannot get it done with 10 rounds you cannot get it done” does not factor in home invasions, mobs, etc. Their disgusting stupidity will tie your hands and get you killed.

    It’s like the chumps who have a problem with you purchasing a firearm because chumps using Made in China devices to post their hypocrisy have a problem with Made In Turkey. Somehow in their pinheads the warts of an entire country lands on the doorstep of firearm manufacturers and America consumers. Left up to such sticks in the mud you would never have the opportunity to include such firearms in a selection where value and quality are the deciding factors. I have zero use for stupid people with guns whether they are shooting the moon or using Made In China devices to spew hypocrisy.

    This interstate transport of game is not going to fly. It ends where it begins. That’s right Texas…You cannot put Louisiana Ducks and Deer on your dinner tables because Louisiana cannot put Texas Ducks and Deer on their dinner tables. What kind of quacks think like that? If you know one keep that imbecile away from your kids.

  4. I wouldn’t have used that lead photo. Who or what is he pointing his muzzle at? He doesn’t know. Bolt is even closed.Total fail.

  5. Well I guess its time for a mercy mission, gear up with my semi-auto weapon of war and gazillion round magazines and shoot Bambi so she does not suffer from the COVID.

    • “semi-auto weapon of war”

      So you hunt with a handgun?

      All AR style rifles used on the battlefield have “full auto” capability.

  6. Just classify them as nuisance critters. No permit or hunting season needed, and any weapon may be used day or night. At least that’s how we handle it in MS. 🙂

  7. Question to ask the anti-gunners and Fudds: What does hunting have to do with the 2nd Amendment and the reason for its existence in the Constitution? Answer – absolutely nothing.

  8. I scanned the petition, and it has nothing to do with the interstate transportation of game. Hunting IN the US is not mentioned, nor does the word “interstate shipment” appear. Instead, the petition and requested regulation has everything to do with the import of wild animals, live, dead, or parts into the US from other countries, much of which is already regulated in some manner. These guys just want to have it banned or regulated (with some express exemptions that I did not read).

    So it may effect a deer, moose, elk or bear you shot in Canada, but otherwise Larry is smoking some pretty heavy duty weed to come up with the argument presented here. Try again Larry. If any of you disagree with me, read the petition (link provided in the article) before you do.

    • Read the text of the actual law also. It’s just over one page long. The only possible chance they have of doing anything like this is related to CWD, which is known to affect only cervids (deer, elk, and moose). Section 1 authorizes regulations protecting wild game species, and it could be argued that we don’t want CWD spread around. But, that’s it folks. There are already various regulations, state laws, and policies in place regarding CWD. Not even the so-called “party of science” could pull this off. They’re throwing pasta against the wall, hoping one of their half-baked ideas will stick. Our response should be, after recovering from a fit of laughter, to go out and shoot a wild pig.

    • “Hunting IN the US is not mentioned, nor does the word “interstate shipment” appear. Instead, the petition and requested regulation has everything to do with the import of wild animals, live, dead, or parts into the US from other countries“

      Mark, thanks for taking the time to actually read the petition, the devil is in the details.

      I’m surprised at how many folks who consider themselves ‘patriotic’ conservative Americans are willing to post bald-faced lies and think somehow they are serving the constitution.

  9. Read that file too and do not see how Larry Keane reaches his conclusion. Nothing I read in that thing impacts hunting within the USA.

  10. We are supposed to believe that this proposal only restricts the interstellar transportation of Tribbles, Regulan bloodworms, and Ceti eels.

  11. A coupla commenters here are unhappy with Larry Keane’s analysis. My question would be, “Can a law purported to be about foreign import be twisted in such a way as to be used to eliminate hunting in the US.” Is that what Keane is actually warning about (though maybe opaquely)?

    • No doubt these groups would love that, but that is not what they are asking for here. This is more along the lines of banning the import of trophies from Africa like Obummer did, only more so.

    • So opaquely that we can’t see his point, if so.

      No, the Lacey Act of 1900 did include more than foreign import, but it’s pretty short as noted above. According to the language of the Act, the only way it could be used to eliminate hunting, would be if it could be scientifically proven that hunting is net detrimental to wildlife. The science on that has long been settled in favor of hunting, and it becomes even more so as the human population increases. We’re here now, and there are a bunch of us, and we affect the natural world, and the only way to reverse it is to kill off all humans and remove all our stuff. There are a few rock-lickers that like this idea, but they’re something of a fringe bunch. Although I heard that one of them has been attempting to get back into government. There have been a plethora of laws and regulations written since 1900 that address hunting, and humankind’s impact on wildlife, and I’m not aware of anything that could lend itself to regulating hunting out of existence. It would require new legislation, which is very unlikely to ever happen on a large scale.

      As for “…I am not a hunter…” I would suggest that the solution being tendered by the rock-lickers will include more than hunters, just as Hitler’s “final solution” ended up including more than Jews.

      • If it is that Keane was/is overreacting, the comments here would normally slap him down. Must admit I see every piece of legislation proposed and implemented by Dims as offering nothing more than increased government intrusion in to our lives, and extending government control over the populace. And Dims will twist anything to justify themselves.

        As to, “I am not a hunter….” that was a parroting of the “I don’t own one of those guns, so controls don’t affect me” meme.

  12. The logical extension is to line up hunters along state lines and blow away any creature that attempts to cross between states. We can’t let animals go spreading diseases willy-nilly. If geese want to migrate south, they have a choice to wear a mask, show their vaccination cards, or be blasted out of existence attempting to cross a state line.

  13. This has to be the stupidest idea since “Dee-fun-da-po-lease.”

    Hunting is outdoors, in the fresh air, and about as socially distanced as you can get (which is why most of us like to hunt in the first place).

    If they ask me, I will gladly volunteer to stand guard at my state’s border (preferably in a corn or soybean field), and shoot ANY deer that attempts to cross into my state. I may even bring a few high capacity magazines with me, whatever it takes to control the spread of this p(l)andemic.


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