Earlier today, the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) and other major sportsmen’s groups from across the country held a conference call with members from the press to discuss concerns and impacts of the federal government shutdown.
As hunting season kicks into high gear across the U.S., MDF President and CEO Miles Moretti noted one major concern is that Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management facilities and campgrounds are closed, leaving hunters, literally, out in the cold.
Moretti also expressed concern that habitat projects, many long-term and ongoing, are being put on hold. He said, “Some projects are time sensitive. They need to be done in the fall. They may not occur this year, or they may have to be postponed. That’s disturbing, because these projects are critical to the management of some of our wildlife species, especially some of our big game animals.” Moretti continued, “Not only does this affect wildlife, but it puts a strain on the contractors hired to do the work, threatening their livelihood and the financial stability of local communities.”
His third area of concern is the lack of work being done regarding the Sage Grouse Initiative. Moretti said, “With federal agencies closed down, there’s no work going on the ground for sage grouse. We’re trying to aggressively work on federal and private lands to keep these birds from getting listed [under the Endangered Species Act]. We have a very short window until a decision will be made.”
Moretti’s final point goes back to the hunters and the lack of government communication since the shutdown. He said, “You can’t find out if a campground or particular facility is open or not. People are traveling hundreds of miles this time of year, and they’re getting to their favorite hunting or fishing hole and finding out that the facilities are not available to them. This lack of communication from the federal government has been real frustrating for our hunters and anglers.”
MDF’s President concluded, “Our membership is a broad cross section of the country, from all states, and affiliates of both political parties. MDF members are interested in wildlife, habitat and conservation. They are calling their congressional representatives, but they get a message saying, ‘Sorry, my office is closed due to the government shutdown.’ That goes back to the communication issue.
“All of MDF’s membership is concerned, and we are calling on our government to come together, re-open, and deal with public lands facilities and access, conservation funding, and policy issues.”
Logo courtesy Mule Deer Foundation