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Judge says wildlife refuge hunts
By MATT APUZZO, September 1, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) - Dozens of wildlife refuges could
be closed to hunters after a federal judge ruled
that the government never considered the
consequences of steadily expanding hunting rights
for six years. U.S. District Judge Ricardo M.
Urbina has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service violated federal law when it allowed or
expanded hunting at 37 refuges from 1997-2003.
While the agency studied the consequences of
opening each refuge to hunters, Urbina said
officials had a responsibility to look at the
effects systemwide. "No one was looking at the
cumulative effect when you open 37 refuges," said
Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of the Humane
Society of the United States and an attorney in
the case. "You can't have each refuge sticking
their head in the sand."
President Theodore Roosevelt began the wildlife
refuge system in 1903, setting aside a tiny island
off the east coast of Florida to protect pelicans
and other birds from hunters. The system now
includes more than 535 refuges where wildlife and
its habitat are protected.
Environmental groups have criticized the
government for allowing hunting, fishing and other
recreational activities in many refuges.
While Urbina said in Thursday's ruling that
wildlife officials violated the law, he stopped
short of overturning the hunting rules and asked
attorneys for both sides to propose solutions.
Lovvorn said that could mean banning or scaling
back hunting. A Fish and Wildlife Service
spokesman said the agency remains committed to
allowing hunting when it is compatible with the
"At this point there hasn't been any indication
anything is going to change immediately,"
spokesman David Eisenhauer said. "It's a little
early to say what's going to happen."
The refuges at issue in the lawsuit are located
primarily in the South, Virgina and Appalachia and
the Pacific Northwest.
Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
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