with Horse and Hound

Federal Judge Protects Hunting on Public Lands

Sportsmen won a major courtroom battle when Federal Judge James S. Gwin in Columbus, Ohio denied a lawsuit seeking to close hunting on fifty refuges within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The lawsuit was filed in 2003 by the Fund for Animals, which later merged with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA)—an organization strongly supported by foxhunters—and other sporting organizations intervened on behalf of sportsmen.

Judge Gwin’s ruling counters the attempt by HSUS to use the National Environmental Policy Act to justify the closing of hunting on the refuges. The judge relied heavily on language in the 1997 Refuge Improvement Act, championed by the USSA, which mandated that hunting and fishing be “facilitated” on the refuges. In his ruling, the judge noted that the plaintiffs “are not entitled to an inviolate sanctuary for their preferred uses….Congress has determined that, to the extent possible, hunters, fishers, observers, photographers, and educators must share the refuges.”

It is not yet known if HSUS will appeal the ruling. Click for more details.

Posted April 21, 2011