Secretary Zinke Reaffirms States' Primary Role in Fish and Wildlife Management

Secretary Zinke Reaffirms States' Primary Role in Fish and Wildlife Management

On September 10, Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a memorandum reaffirming the authority of the states to exercise their broad trustee and police powers as stewards of the Nation’s fish and wildlife species on public lands and waters under the jurisdiction of the Department. In announcing the memorandum at the annual meeting of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary, Aurelia Skipwith, said the memorandum is intended to clarify the relationship between the states and the DOI bureaus and offices, to strengthen joint state-federal conservation partnership, and enhance the public’s opportunities to enjoy the benefits of the Nation’s fish and wildlife.

The memorandum is based on the policy, adopted in 1983, that recognized the primary state authority regarding fish and resident wildlife in the absence of specific, overriding federal law (43 C.F.R Part 24). Secretary Zinke highlighted the states’ long track record of successfully exercising their duty as trustees of the Nation’s fish and wildlife and emphasized the need for DOI agencies to collaborate with states to ensure continued stewardship and public benefits from fish and wildlife.

The memorandum directs DOI bureaus and offices to complete a review of all regulations, policies, and guidance that pertains to the conservation and management of fish and wildlife on lands and waters under DOI jurisdiction within 45 days. As part of the review, bureaus and offices must identify any regulations, policies or guidance that are more restrictive than state provisions. Within 90 days, the bureaus and offices must submit a report containing detailed recommendations for how to better align regulations, policies and guidance with state provisions.

Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt is directed to issue a plan to implement the recommendations within 120 days.

September 14, 2018