Interior Secretary Zinke gets it. He knows that America's hunters and anglers are the backbone of successful fish and wildlife management

Hunting and fishing have long been at the cornerstone of America’s outdoor heritage, with countless men and women participating in these cherished activities since our nation’s founding. 

Since the advent of modern fish and wildlife conservation, sportsmen have played a key role in funding conservation efforts at the national, state, and local levels. The reasoning for this is simple, and can be credited to America’s original conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter, fisherman and NRA Life Member.

President Roosevelt recognized that our natural resources need to be responsibly utilized. To that end, he championed wildlife management based on scientific principles, an approach that serves as the foundation of our entire system.

Importantly, President Roosevelt also recognized that hunters and anglers were the lynchpin to the system’s success and serve as our nation’s greatest resource defenders. 

The revitalization of America’s wildlife resources marks the greatest conservation success story in history, ensuring that America’s wild spaces and the fish and wildlife species that rely on them can be enjoyed by all.

For the past eight years unfortunately, the Roosevelt model has been undermined by an out-of-control federal government. This is why the appointment of Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior was celebrated by America’s hunting community and those who care about our wildlife resources.  If there ever was an Interior Secretary cut from the Roosevelt mold, it’s Ryan Zinke. 

A lifelong advocate of hunting and fishing, Zinke’s public service career has been focused on protecting our natural resources while recognizing that hunting and fishing are critical to our ongoing success.  He clearly understands that without sportsmen at the center of the equation, fish and wildlife are at risk. That’s why he prioritized hunting and fishing access from day one at the Interior Department and his comprehensive review of national monument designations was so critically important to America’s sportsmen. 

Throughout the review process, he has kept hunters and anglers front and center and we should all applaud his tireless effort on our behalf. Those who claim that the Secretary does not have our pro-conservation interests at heart are either misinformed, lying, or both.

Zinke knows that America’s hunters and anglers are the backbone of successful fish and wildlife management in the United States.  In 2016 alone, $1.1 billion in hunter and angler excise revenues was invested by the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies to fund wildlife projects benefitting all wildlife -- game and nongame species alike. 

But he also understands that it’s not just finances where America’s hunters and anglers make a difference.  Within our own local communities, hunting and angling is an important tradition that’s often passed down through the generations and enjoyed by the entire family, helping to forge life-long support of wildlife conservation and the full appreciation of our fish and wildlife resources. 

Ryan Zinke knows of this deep appreciation because it’s how he’s lived his entire life.  And it’s precisely why his monument review was so important to sportsmen and our cherished traditions.     

None can claim greater dedication to wildlife conservation than our nation’s hunters and anglers.  Sportsmen embody President Roosevelt’s ever-living wildlife management philosophy -- which is also embraced and championed by Secretary Zinke -- responsible hunting and fishing are at the core of conservation.  Under Zinke's leadership, our precious wildlife resources will be effectively managed to protect them for current and future generations.

Chris W. Cox has served as the executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, since 2002.