451 McCormick Rd
Coraopolis PA 15108
January 18, 2011
For Immediate Release
Gun ban could threaten hunting on all federal lands
Coraopolis, PA – Together with some three-dozen other national wildlife and conservation organizations, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) once again expresses its dissatisfaction with a recent federal court ruling regarding recreation on the Huron-Manistee National Forest in central Michigan; noting that it sets a troubling precedent that could pose a threat to hunting on all of our federal lands.
The ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals states that the Forest must consider banning gun hunting on 66,000 acres of areas designated as “semi primitive” within the Huron-Manistee National Forest. The ruling questions whether hunting is a compatible use of these areas given that Forest Plan direction states that users will find a “high probability of experiencing isolation from the sights and sounds of humans.”
Part of the court’s rationale for this ruling is that the Forest failed to consider land management direction (banning gun hunting on the semi-primitive areas) that would minimize the duplication of recreational opportunity when considering state lands in Michigan. Because gun hunting is allowed on virtually all state lands, the court suggests that the Forest should have considered banning gun hunting on the semi-primitive areas. This portion of the ruling could force federal agencies to consider restricting gun hunting to accommodate quiet pursuits in regions where other public lands open to hunting are abundant.
“The ramifications of banning hunting within the Huron-Manistee National Forest could be huge, said RGS President and CEO Mike Zagata. “The court is suggesting that the mere sound of a gunshot is incompatible with other public uses of our public lands. By doing so, the court fails to recognize that with the exception of spring turkey hunting, the vast majority of hunters are afield in the fall well after the prime period for bird watching has passed and well before cross-country ski and snowshoe enthusiasts take to the woods. Because this decision could well be the single greatest threat to hunting on our federal public lands in recent memory, we strongly urge the Huron-Manistee National Forest to select the “No-Action” alternative and, thereby, continue to allow firearm hunting on all semi-primitive non-motorized Management Areas and the Nordhouse Dunes Primitive Area.”
The Court has given the Huron-Manistee 90 days to revise its Forest Plan to address the issues raised in this ruling. RGS will continue to coordinate the involvement of other leading wildlife conservation organizations to address the threats posed by this court decision and to protect the right of hunters to pursue their passion on their public lands.
In that regard, Zagata is encouraging all RGS members, and indeed all hunters and conservationists to submit a comment to the Forest Service in support of the “No-Action” alternative. Comments can be submitted to Lee Evison, Forest Planner, Huron-Manistee National Forest, 1755 S. Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI 49601, or email comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org, using “Forest Plan SEIS” in the subject line. The fax number is 231-775-5551. The comment period ends on February 11, 2011.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.
Recognized by Charity Navigator as a four-star not-for-profit organization, information on the RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
Dan Dessecker, RGS Director of Conservation Policy