Feds seek to expand hunting at wildlife refuge

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 9, 2019

The department also plans to update hunting and fishing regulations at refuges across the U.S.to more closely match state regulations, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement on Wednesday.

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016, according to the Service's National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years.

One of the new refuges where hunting and fishing would be allowed is Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

Hearing it from the Interior Department, the changes are about protecting... protecting the tradition of hunting.

Salvo said he will be reviewing the proposed regulations closely to make sure expanded hunting and fishing does not detract from the other priorities.

"It's critically important that any expanded hunting or fishing doesn't undermine the reason Congress created wildlife refuges in the first place - to provide needed shelter and protection for our country's wild animals, plants and fish", said Randi Spivak, public lands director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The agency will accept public comments on the proposed rules over the next 45 days and intends to finalize the proposed changes before the 2019-2020 hunting seasons. The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2019-0040, and will include details on how to submit comments. An interim copy of the proposed rule is now available.

The St. Marks refuge is the only Florida location on the list. The refuge system is home to more than 8,000 animal and marine life species.

Founded in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, there are some 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a network of lands set aside and managed by USFWS specifically as habitat for wildlife. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour's drive of most major metropolitan areas.

To look at the proposed plan, visit the refuge's website.

"President Trump is committed to expanding public access on public lands, and this proposal is executing on that directive by opening and increasing more access to hunting and fishing by the Fish and Wildlife Service at more stations and across more acres than ever before", Bernhardt's statement said.

The hunt plan, which could replace the 1984 Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Hunt Plan, would maintain big game hunting programs while also adding waterfowl, turkey, feral hog and coyote hunting. Other facilities would see smaller expansions with the net result of some 1.4 million new acres of public land opened for access to sportsmen. Hunting, within specified limits, is now permitted on 340 wildlife refuges and 37 wetland management districts. Numerous current regs on the books are long obsolete, points out USFWS, such as a mandate for medical access waiver permits on a refuge in Virginia although local officials have not issued any such waivers for more than 30 years, and have no plans to issue any in the future.

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