‘National Wildlife Slaughter Areas’: PETA Proposes ‘Refuge’ Name Change

For Immediate Release:
July 2, 2021

Tapi Mbundure 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – In response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new proposal to expand hunting and fishing at 90 national wildlife refuges and at a fish hatchery, PETA sent a letter to the agency’s principal deputy director, Martha Williams, today asking her to call the areas what they are if the proposal passes: National Wildlife Slaughter Areas.

“Animals are denied the right simply to exist in their wild homes, but taxpayers do have the right to hear that their money is subsidizing more and more recreational killing on public lands,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Words matter—and PETA is calling on the federal government to stop trying to pass areas off as places of refuge for wildlife when they are actually killing fields.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. I can be reached at 571-383-4128 or [email protected]. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

PETA’s letter to Williams follows.

July 2, 2021

Martha Williams

Principal Deputy Director

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Re: Docket Number FWS-HQ-NWRS-2021-0027

Dear Ms. Williams:

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide in response to the largest proposal to date to expand hunting and sport fishing access across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges and on the land of one national fish hatchery—land that was originally intended to be a sanctuary for wildlife. Out of respect for American taxpayers, who should be fully aware that they are supporting recreational killing on public lands, please don’t do this. Or, if the proposal passes, we suggest that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rename national “refuges” to reflect—honestly—what they are: “National Wildlife Slaughter Areas.”

Merriam-Webster defines “refuge” as a place that provides shelter or protection. Words matter, and with this latest proposal, the National Wildlife “Refuge” System continues to create anything but a refuge by ensuring that our public lands aren’t safe havens for the countless wild families who make them their home. Instead, they are simply playing fields for recreational hunters.

Hunting and fishing cause hideous suffering, and only a small proportion of Americans engage in these activities—5% and just over 16%, respectively. Hunting disrupts migration and hibernation patterns, destroys animal families, and is ineffective at curtailing wildlife populations. Left alone, most animal populations regulate their own numbers, but they don’t have a chance to do this when, year after year, the FWS allows them to flourish and then lets loose gun-happy humans to create outdoor slaughterhouses. Fish have tremendous capacity for suffering—just as dogs and cats do—and discarded fishing litter poses fatal hazards to “nontarget” wildlife, including protected species.

Killing is not conserving. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the first official refuges in 1940, it was illegal to “hunt, trap, capture, willfully disturb, or kill any bird or wild animal” in them. We urge the FWS to prioritize the non-violent “compatible uses” outlined in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 and support Americans who engage in peaceful outdoor activities—such as birdwatching (which has surged in popularity during the pandemic), photography, hiking (which has increased in popularity by 134% since 2019), and canoeing—that foster a true appreciation for nature and wildlife. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind