Interior Department Has Hunting Restrictions in Its Sights
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Interior Department Has Hunting Restrictions in Its Sights

Proposal Would Allow Killing of Animals in Protected Areas; NRA Wants to Make Gun Silencers Easier to Buy

The National Rifle Association wants Congress to pass a bill to make it easier to buy silencers for guns, and the Trump administration may have muzzled a federal agency that was raising objections to the bill’s impact on wildlife, including killing animals in their dens.

An Interior Department staffer marked up a memo from Michael Reynolds, the acting director of the National Park Service, about a draft of the bill.

Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said agency officials were told they couldn’t tell Congress their concerns. He provided a copy of the memo to McClatchy.

“It appears the national parks are no longer allowed to give Congress their honest views about the impacts of pending legislation,” Ruch said.

Press staffers for the Interior Department and the National Park Service both denied that the Trump administration is silencing the National Park Service.

Action Box/What You Can Do About It

Call Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior at 202-208-3100 or write him at U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20240.

Contact your representative or senators.

Contact the Violence Policy Center at 202-822-8200.

“At no point did the Department tell the NPS not to communicate with Congress,” said Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department.

The NRA has been trying for years to pass various versions of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act. The House Natural Resource Committee was supposed to hold a hearing on the bill in June, but that was canceled after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four others were shot at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va.

Scalise, who was shot in the hip, is learning to walk again.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), who received $3,000 from the NRA last year, sponsored the bill.

Donald Trump Jr. (left) with a turkey he killed in Indiana in 2016. Photo by

The bill would remove silencers from the 1934 National Firearms Act which requires buyers to undergo a background check that can take up to a year and pay a $200 tax.

Since 2010, the number of legally registered silencers has more than tripled, going from 285,087 in 2010 to 902,805 in 2016. Silencers can help mass murders kill more efficiently, according to the Violence Policy Center.

The bill would also prevent the park service from regulating hunting bears and wolves in Alaska wildlife preserves, including killing bear cubs in their dens. Estimating bear populations in Alaska is difficult because the bears are so spread out.

Reynolds wrote that the park service should be able to restrict “taking wolves and coyotes (including pups) during the denning season when their pelts have little trophy, economic or subsistence value.”

The Interior Department staffer with the initials C.H. crossed that section and eight others out. The staffer may be Casey Hammond who came to the Interior Department as one of Trump’s beachhead employees.

The silencer industry has friends in the White House. Donald Trump Jr., a hunter, recorded a promotional video for silencers with Joshua Waldron, the CEO of SilencerCo.

“I love your product,” Trump Jr. said.

Waldron and his wife, Audrey, donated more than $50,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign, and Waldron was invited to Trump’s inauguration.

“SilencerCo’s early and enthusiastic support of the incoming Republican administration is directly related to its ideological alignment with Josh’s and SilencerCo’s pro Second Amendment beliefs,” the company wrote.

Featured Photo: By Sven-Erik Arndt via

August 29, 2017