Court Decision Threatens Hunting on National Forest Lands

Posted on 10/29/2010

USSA Urges U.S. Forest Service to Fix Forest Planning Regulation 

On October 26th, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) and a coalition of nineteen other leading conservation groups sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service requesting that it rewrite certain regulations.  That language was recently used by a Federal Court to render an anti-hunting decision. 

The court ruling, by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, requires the Forest Service to consider banning hunting with guns on lands designated as “primitive” or “semiprimitive.”  In its decision, the Court ruled that two parts of the Forest Service’s planning regulations required that the Forest Service consider banning gun hunting in these designated areas.

The Court determined that hunting with guns and the noise associated with gun hunting could harm the quality of the recreational experience of hikers, backpackers, and cross country skiers.

 Second, the Court ruled that the Forest Service was required to consider closing these areas to gun hunting in places where there is other public, non-Forest land nearby that is open to gun hunting.  This could require the Forest Service to close lands currently open for gun hunting when new state or federal hunting lands are opened.

Further, the Court’s depiction of hunting is almost as disappointing as the actual ruling itself.  The Court commented that the Forest Service should consider whether birdwatchers should be able to enjoy these Forest lands “without ducking for the occasional gunshot.”

 “This ruling could allow anti-hunters across the nation to file lawsuits seeking to close hunting on Forest lands by simply claiming that gun hunting disturbs their quiet use of the land or that there is other land nearby that is open for hunters to use.” said Rob Sexton, USSA vice president for government affairs.  “We are urging the Forest Service to fix these misguided regulations." 

Click here to view a copy of the letter sent by USSA and the nineteen other conservation groups to the Forest Service.

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