The Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, along with the Vermont Traditions Coalition, the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, and the Vermont Bear Hound Association, filed a lawsuit against the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to overturn the restrictions on hunt in the Conte National Wildlife Refuge.
On August 16, 2021, the FWS published new regulations governing hunting on the refuge, including major reductions in the bloodhound training season and the elimination of nearly all dog hunting on the refuge’s Putney Mountain Unit.
“Federal law requires the FWS to show the public their plans before they are enacted so they can gather input from the public,” said Todd Adkins, vice president of government affairs for the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation. “This prevents arbitrary government and is critical to a fair and functioning democracy, but the Biden Administration failed to deliver, denying Vermonters a voice that is guaranteed by law.”
“Hunters were completely blindsided by the hunting restrictions because the US Fish and Wildlife Service provided no notice or opportunity for public comment despite the drastic changes,” continued Chris Bradley, president of the Federation of Hunters. Vermont Sports Clubs. “The lack of government transparency is the focus of our lawsuit.”
“Bear hunters rely on the summer training season to get their dogs ready for the fall hunting season,” said Doug DeVost, president of the Vermont Bear Hound Association. “That training is essential to keeping dogs healthy and well-trained in the field, and yet the FWS didn’t even give us the courtesy of hearing our input on the impact of this decision.”
“The Fish and Wildlife Service had ample opportunity to share its plans to restrict hunting rights on the refuge with Vermont sportsmen, but did not fully do so, leaving it out of its preliminary plans for Conte, not to mention the changes in public. meetings or other communications. FWS even stated in a draft hunting plan that the refuge intended to continue the status quo of allowing hunters to hunt with their dogs on the refuge in accordance with Vermont state law,” said Mike Covey, Executive Director of the Vermont Traditions Coalition.
All four organizations believe the precedent of allowing the federal government to hide new rules while denying public opinion was too much to ignore. The groups are asking the court to overturn the restrictions and are seeking reimbursement for legal costs to defend a fundamental and basic tenant of federal law.
About the Sports Alliance: Working in all 50 state legislatures, Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the activities (hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting) that generate the money to pay for them. The Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for youth and public education, legal advocacy in state and federal courts, and research to guide the decision-making process of all involved. Its mission is accomplished through several different programs coordinated to provide the most comprehensive defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance like www.sportsmensalliangce.org, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.