Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has signed an order that will help both wildlife and hunting throughout the Western United States.
At an expo in Utah, Secretary Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3362 that seeks to improve wildlife management and conservation and expand opportunities for big game hunting by improving priority habitats within important and migration corridors across the West.
Priority states currently include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Order 3362 will improve habitat quality and western big game winter range and migration corridors for antelope, elk, and mule deer. The order fosters improved collaboration with states and private landowners and facilitates all parties using the best available science to inform development of guidelines that helps ensure that robust big game populations continue to exist.
"Recognizing this most recent Secretarial Order, SCI applauds Secretary Zinke for his leadership in conservation and wildlife management. It is part of important ongoing efforts to enhance meaningful conservation of wildlife that results in benefits for all, including the millions of hunters throughout the country. SCI is proud to do all it can to support these kinds of actions that are based on sound science and which involve the expertise of wildlife agencies at both the state and federal levels," said SCI President Paul Babaz.
"We all know that animals go where animals want to go, and more often than not that's dependent upon natural features like watersheds, rather than whether land is owned by the BLM, state, or private landowners. We need to manage appropriately. My goal is healthy herds for American hunters and wildlife watchers, and this order will help establish better migration corridors for some of North America's most iconic big game species like elk, mule deer and antelope," said Secretary Zinke. "American hunters are the backbone of big game conservation efforts, and now working with state and private landowners, the Department will leverage its land management and scientific expertise to both study the migration habits of wildlife as well as identify ways to improve the habitat. For example, this can be done by working with ranchers to modify their fences, working with states to collaborate on sage brush restoration, or working with scientists to better understand migration routes."
A lifelong sportsman who grew up in Montana, Secretary Zinke has prioritized sportsmen's access and healthy herds during his tenure at the Department. Since being sworn in to office in March 2017, Zinke:
- Reversed an order that would have banned affordable lead ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands.
- Expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges
- Signed a wide-ranging order to expand sportsmen access on public and private land, improve collaboration between the federal, state and Tribal wildlife management authorities, and create a "one-stop" website for all hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands
- Directed bureaus to open hunting and fishing on all national monument lands where legally allowed
- Finalized a land acquisition to make the Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible to hunters for the first time ever
- Established advisory councils on hunting and shooting sports to help identify policy opportunities
- Highlighted the responsibility sportsmen have to public lands by hosting a public lands cleanup day at BLM land commonly used for target practice.