Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Jan. 9 the creation of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council.
“Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America,” said Zinke.
“Through the purchase of duck stamps, bows, ammo, firearms, and more, sportsmen and women contribute billions of dollars to conservation,” he said.
“From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and habitat will be,” he said.
“The Council will be made up of experts that share their knowledge, experience, and recommendations on a number of policy proposals put before them, as well as helping the Departments come up with innovative ideas to improve the health of wildlife and their habitat and increase sportsmen access on public and private lands.”
The council was created to provide the Interior and Agriculture secretaries with input regarding policies pertaining to wildlife and habitat conservation, according to the Interior Department’s companion announcement.
The Council will examine ways to benefit wildlife resources; encourage partnership among the public, the sporting conservation organizations, state, tribal, territorial, and federal government; and benefit recreational hunting and recreational shooting sports, Interior said.
Zinke, a former Montana congressman and a combat veteran of the SEALs, who retired from the Navy as a commander, has set out to be the most activist Interior secretary on behalf of the sportsman and fishermen.
In less than 12 months in office, Zinke has reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and tackle on national wildlife refuge lands, expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges lands and created a “one-stop” website for all hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands.
The secretary has also directed his department’s bureau’s to open hunting and fishing on all national monument lands where legally allowed and finalized a land acquisition to make the Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible to hunters.
Nominations to the council should be directed to: Joshua Winchell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; or emailed to: [email protected]
The council is expected to meet twice a year, and at such other times as designated by the secretary. Once the council is formally established it will have a two-year charter.