For Immediate Release, February 24, 2021

Contact:

Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121, bhartl@biologicaldiversity.org

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Urged to Rescind Agreement With NRA

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to rescind a Trump-era agreement that established a 10-year partnership with the National Rifle Association.

Today’s letter to the agency focuses on a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, signed in the last few days of the Trump administration by former director Aurelia Skipwith. The agreement requires the Service to involve the NRA in its Partners for Fish and Wildlife program to develop “science-based strategies” relating to big game management and migratory corridors — an issue on which the NRA possesses no special knowledge or expertise.

“The NRA agreement won’t improve conservation one iota, but it did pander to the previous administration’s most loyal cronies,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Biden administration should remove this disgraceful stain on the Fish and Wildlife Service and begin restoring trust in how the agency manages our nation’s wildlife heritage.”

The letter notes that the Jan. 13 agreement’s likely goal was “increasing the opportunity for trophy hunters to kill big game animals and put their heads on walls.”

For its part in the MOU, the NRA commits to “assist in the education and engagement of sportsmen and shooters in voluntary conservation programs,” recruit sportsmen in conservation and conduct firearm safety training.

Just two days after the MOU was signed, the NRA declared bankruptcy and attempted to reincorporate as a new legal entity in Texas. This was precipitated by the New York Attorney General's effort to dissolve the NRA on the grounds that Wayne LaPierre and other senior officials diverted about $63 million for their own personal use and that the organization was operating in a persistently fraudulent manner.

The Center’s letter notes that if the NRA is either dissolved through the court action or becomes a new legal entity under Texas law, the NRA entity that signed the MOU will likely no longer exist, allowing the Service to rescind the MOU.

“This country will be a better place once the NRA is gone, and the organization should certainly have no role in conserving this nation’s wildlife under any circumstances,” said Hartl.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.