On March 15, 2021 Deb Haaland was confirmed by the Senate to head up the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior is extremely important hunters and angler, because of its management of public lands, endangered species, and is the department head the Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to NPR, Haaland faced tough questions from Republican Senators who mainly focused on gas and oil extraction from public lands. In the past, she has spoken out against fracking, pipelines, and fossil fuel development on federal lands, but during her hearing, she took a more moderate approach. She stated that “Fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come,” but also called the climate crisis the “challenge of our lifetime.”
As for her views on hunting and fishing, most of it looks promising. According to Field and Stream, She a supporter of public lands, the Great American Outdoor Act (GAOA), and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Haaland has received support from Backcountry Hunter and Anglers. She met with Land Tawney, the President and CEO of the group, and discussed some of her proposals.
In a BHA press release, Tawney stated that “She offers a strong and knowledgeable vision for the Interior Department, a vision that is informed by her earliest experiences with her family on public lands and waters and on successful hunts in the West. She is approachable, capable, and a bridge-builder. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers looks forward to working with her to champion critical conservation issues and uphold our great American outdoors legacy.”
She is a supporter of the 30 by 30 plan that was created by a recent Biden executive order that seeks to preserve 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. She was asked if hunters and anglers would have access to the preserved area. While she did not get into specifics in her answer BHA seems optimistic that hunting and fishing would be allowed.
“[Haaland] looks at the hunting and fishing community as an important constituency that is there to help move conservation priorities,” Tawney says. “I think when it comes to 30 by 30, one of the things that we brought up [in our meeting] was around refuge expansion and more opportunities on refuges. The last three administrations have increased hunting and fishing opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges. We think there is still some work that probably could be done there.”
Perhaps the only negative when it comes to hunting-related issues is her support for placing permanent federal protections on grizzlies in the Lower 48. She even co-sponsored legislation calling for this while she was a congresswoman in the House of Representatives. When questioned by senators about the legislation she said she would revisit the issue and make science-based decisions when it comes to wildlife management, but only time will tell what actually happens.
Based on everything we have read, there could have been worse choices. Haaland does not seem anti-hunting and has stated that she personally has been hunting before and fed her family with the meat. She is a strong advocate for public lands, and it looks very unlikely that there would be a massive sell-off under her watch. The only reservations we see are some of her stances on certain ESA issues.
Hopefully, Haaland will make good decisions when it comes to hunting and fishing related issues and not be pressured by anti-hunters that are part of the Democratic Party.