Increased opportunities for hunting, angling could become available on 90 refuges, one fish hatchery
MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applauded a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to expand public hunting and fishing opportunities within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The increases would enhance public access to 2.1 million acres, encompassing 90 national wildlife refuges and one national fish hatchery – the largest expansion of opportunities to date.
The USFWS proposal would boost public hunting and fishing at places ranging from Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia (proposed for migratory bird hunting and fishing) and Muleshoe and Neches River refuges in Texas (proposed for migratory bird, upland and big game hunting) to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Florida (proposed for turkey hunting and fishing) and Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Maine (proposed for fishing).
If adopted, the proposal would increase the total number of units within the refuge system open to public hunting to 434; it would bring the total number of units open to public fishing to 378. The total number of national fish hatcheries open to fishing would increase to 22.
“Our hunting and fishing traditions rely on our ability to access lands and waters to chase birds, stalk big game and wet a line, and no public lands better represent these access opportunities than the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said BHA Conservation Director John Gale. “From President Theodore Roosevelt’s designation of our first national wildlife refuge in 1903 – at Pelican Island in Florida – sportsmen and women have played a key role in our refuge system, supporting it via Duck Stamp funds and relying on refuges as places to get afield.
“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Interior Department for supporting hunters and anglers, fish and wildlife and our long-held outdoor traditions.”
The USFWS is seeking public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days. Visit www.regulations.gov, docket number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2021-0027, for the opportunity to comment. The Service intends to finalize the changes in time for the 2021-2022 hunting seasons.
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for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.