Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“Secretary Zinke’s memorandum calling for federal officials to review federal policies and defer to the states in managing fish and wildlife on federal lands stunningly ignores the national commitment, and his own Department’s responsibilities, for conservation of these resources.
“State wildlife agencies serve an essential role in managing resident species of fish and wildlife, but it is the federal government, acting on behalf of the American people as a whole, that has paramount authority for the protection and conservation of endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, and fish populations in the United States. The federal government manages the National Wildlife Refuge System, a network of federal lands expressly created to serve the national interest in wildlife conservation, and the other great systems of federal lands.
“It would be both inappropriate and illegal to ‘defer’ to the States in carrying out these primary federal responsibilities for wildlife conservation. How the Secretary could issue a memorandum on fish and wildlife conservation without mentioning the Endangered Species Act or the National Wildlife Refuge System is beyond me.
“The Trump administration has demonstrated over and over again that it only cares about oil and gas and other extractive uses on our federal lands and waters. Secretary Zinke’s memorandum confirms that fact by attempting to outsource federal responsibilities for fish and wildlife to the states.”