Ruffed Grouse Society Disappointed with Federal Ruling on Hunting
Decision could threaten hunting on all federal lands.
Coraopolis, PA –-(Ammoland.com)- The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is sincerely disappointed 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 6th Circuit Court of Appeals states that the Forest must consider banning gun hunting on 66,000 acres of areas designated as “Semiprimitive”. 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.”
The following quote from the ruling is disappointing as it paints hunters and hunting in a very negative light – “And so, in striking a balance between competing uses of the Forests, one might expect the Service seriously to consider whether, say, birdwatchers in fall should be able to enjoy their pastime, in 6.75 percent of the Forests, without ducking for the occasional gunshot.”
Part of the court’s rationale for this ruling is that the Forest failed to consider land management direction (banning gun hunting on the Semiprimitive 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 Semiprimitive 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.
According to Mike Zagata, RGS President and CEO, “The potential ramifications to hunting of this unfortunate court decision are huge. The court is suggesting that the mere sound of a gunshot is incompatible with other public uses of our public lands. In addition, 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 birdwatching has passed and well before cross-country ski and snowshoe enthusiasts take to the woods.
This decision could well be the single greatest threat to hunting on our federal public lands in recent memory, and RGS plans to enlist the support of its members and volunteers to oppose it.”
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.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) 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.