The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, headquartered in Missoula, announced this week that they are joining several other organizations in a lawsuit against The Center for Biological Diversity over access to public lands.

RMEF spokesman Mark Holyoak spoke to KGVO News on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of folks out there that we see eye to eye with but we did partner with just a couple of them regarding a lawsuit that was filed by an environmental organization, the Center for Biological Diversity,” said Holyoak. “They're seeking to stop public access to a lot of our National Wildlife Refuge lands, more than 2.3 million acres worth.”

Holyoak explained why the RMEF is joining the lawsuit.

“We're just letting people know that that's just not the way things should go,” he said. “These are public lands. They need to be open for hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing play key parts in wildlife management and helping biologists keep track of wildlife numbers, and so we're throwing our hat in the ring and saying this is this is a bad move, and we just want people to know that we're involved and especially speaking on behalf of our members to make that happen.”

Holyoak said The Center for Biological Diversity is ‘in the lawsuit business’, and explained the RMEF’s stance.

“Well, I guess two fronts. One is this is just kind of what they do. They're in the lawsuit business. It's how they roll. And the other is they're throwing out some obscure species and saying that hunting and fishing would do away with those in a blanket kind of way all across the whole country, but that's just that's just not how it works.”

Holyoak named the organizations that the RMEF has joined with in the lawsuit.

“The others were the Safari Club, The International Sportsman's Alliance, and the National Rifle Association,” he said. “A lot of those groups are deeply hunter based and hunter involved. So on this issue we definitely see eye to eye with them and others and so that was just kind of a joint effort that we're all in saying, hey, you know what? Fish and Wildlife Service we're behind you, and our members are behind you. We're for regulated hunting and public access.”

The Center for Biological Diversity wants to thwart hunting and fishing access to 2.3 million acres of public land across 106 wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries.

 

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