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Public lands lawsuit settled—all lands remain open to hunting

In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 2.3 million acres of land. That decision was challenged in federal court, and the NRA, Safari Club International, Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation all moved to intervene in the lawsuit and defend the new hunting opportunities.

Wednesday, November 30, the plaintiffs and the Fish and Wildlife Service stipulated to a settlement of the case. The suit was dismissed without any changes to the expanded hunting and fishing opportunities—all of the expanded hunting and fishing opportunities remain open, which is a victory for America’s outdoorsmen and women. 

But the fight is not over. In exchange for dismissing the suit, the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to respond to a separate petition submitted by the same plaintiffs by June 2023. That petition asks the Fish and Wildlife Service to phase out the use all traditional ammunition in the National Wildlife Refuge System. In September, the Fish and Wildlife Service expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on 38,000 acres of land, with the caveat that it would be phasing out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle at those lands beginning in 2026. That decision shows that the Fish and Wildlife Service, at least under the current administration, is moving towards phasing out traditional ammunition and fishing tackle within the refuge system. Time will tell how the Fish and Wildlife Service responds to the petition. But the response is almost certainly going to be challenged in court.

The NRA will continue to monitor this situation and will continue to protect the rights of hunters everywhere to use commonly owned and affordable ammunition to hunt and enjoy public lands.

The case was captioned Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Please stay tuned to www.nraila.org for future updates on NRA-ILA’s ongoing efforts to defend your constitutional rights.

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