Radical environmentalist groups that actively back Democrats have hunting in their crosshairs. And unsurprisingly, they’re exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to target this pastime.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council, two organizations who’ve made suing the government a cottage industry, are directly petitioning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to undermine wildlife management practices, including hunting, here in the U.S.

If accepted by the government, they’ll undermine the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation that’s allowed our nation to successfully recover imperiled species and restore critical habitat. 

Here’s why these petitions must be stopped in their tracks.

CBD and NRDC are urging Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and USFWS Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams to “use their authority under the Lacey Act, Endangered Species Act, and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to move the petition forward.”

What does this mean? The groups desire to circumvent the legislative process via regulatory fiat to achieve their goals of undermining hunting. 

“Pandemics caused by zoonoses – infectious diseases that jump from animals to people – are entirely preventable,” the USFWS petition reads. “These actions are necessary to help prevent the introduction and spread of zoonotic diseases into the United States, curtail the ongoing loss of biological diversity, and protect against calamitous consequences for both people and wildlife.”

The CDC one states, “The CDC has a significant opportunity to decrease the likelihood of zoonotic disease introduction and transmission in the United States and prevent future public health emergencies, but the agency must act boldly to address the wildlife trade, one of the root causes of zoonotic disease introduction and transmission. In addition, reducing trade in wildlife will reduce the exploitation of wildlife, which is the secondary driver of biodiversity loss, which also poses a significant threat to human health.”

Where does the threat to hunting appear? The petitioners believe “killing wildlife” poses a “grave disease risk”: 

While dead animals and animal parts present a lesser risk of direct disease transmission, the process of capturing and killing wildlife to create wildlife parts and products maintains the overall risk associated with live animal trade.

What will stop this? Why, more government funding! They argue, “By prioritizing U.S. conservation funding and capacity building to transition jobs away from exploitation of mammals and birds the United States will be investing in an international effort that reduces disease risk.”

 And from where? A bite out of U.S. conservation dollars, including the $1.1B generated last year, deriving from hunting and fishing expenditures? Bingo.

True Conservation Groups Respond

Conservation groups, including hunting organizations, have sounded the alarm.

Ducks Unlimited warned their followers and members about this effort, writing: 

Anti-hunting groups want to infringe on your time-honored hunting traditions. If they have their way, you won’t be able to take game meat of any kind across state lines. What’s more, they want to send conservation funds – largely paid for by hunters – overseas. Don’t let them use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to upend your out-of-state hunting traditions.

Bruce Tague, vice president of governmental affairs at Sportsmen’s Alliance, said the contents appear harmless until readers comb through the details.

“Once those rules get modified—in this case, adding all mammals and almost all birds except for, like parakeets or a couple birds that are exempt—and then when you combine it with the current rules of the Lacey Act, it would ban interstate commerce, Tague said.

“You go deer or duck hunting or whatever out-of-state, and you cannot bring the hides, horns, feathers, carcasses, or meat back across those state lines, right?,” Brian Lynn, vice president of communications and marketing at Sportsmen’s Alliance, added. “It’d be a huge, huge blow to conservation, to hunting, and to wildlife management conservation.”

Lawrence Keene of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) also explained, “The petition doesn’t discriminate between a ban on species harvested internationally. It also targets hunters who take animals in other states and transport them home, even if they’ve been professionally prepared by a butcher or taxidermist to safeguard against the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.”


Hunting is the original socially-distanced activity.

There are multiple campaigns dedicated to “responsible recreation” encouraging it. In fact, the sport helped Americans cope with lockdowns and saw a much-needed resurgence in 2020. 

This egregious move to undermine hunting through rules changes should infuriate everyone—hunters and non-hunters alike. 

Secretary Haaland and Director Williams must do the right thing and reject these petitions. The future of conservation will be undermined if they proceed.