National Wildlife Refuge System


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Introduction

“The sweetest hunts are stolen. To steal a hunt, either go far into the wilderness where no one has ever been, or else find some undiscovered place under everybody’s nose.”
                    -Aldo Leopold,
                    A Sand County Almanac

Widely acknowledged as the father of wildlife conservation in America, Aldo Leopold was writing about quail hunting in his beloved Wisconsin. But he could have been referring to the National Wildlife Refuge System. Where better to “steal a hunt” either in a remote corner or under everybody’s nose?

The mission of the 97-million-acre System is to administer a network of public lands and waters for the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants. Refuges provide habitat for nearly every species found on the continent. They safeguard nesting, feeding and wintering areas for migrating birds. They protect the habitat of our country’s rarest animals—ocelots and jaguarundis, Key deer and Atwater’s prairie chicken.

The Refuge System works to foster public understanding and appreciation of the natural world through wildlife-oriented recreation. This includes hunting, offered at more than 300 national wildlife refuges (NWRs) and protected wetlands.

Hunters have been long-time Refuge System partners. Sometimes called the “first conservationists”, they have played a role in the conservation of the nation’s wildlife resources since the late 19th century. Hunters continue to support conservation by buying Federal Duck Stamps. The stamps are required for hunting waterfowl anywhere in the country and the proceeds from Duck Stamps sales are used to purchase and preserve wetland habitat, primarily in the midwest’s `prairie pothole’ region. Since the stamp’s inception in 1934, more than $700 million has been raised, purchasing more than five million acres.

This book serves as an introduction to hunting on national wildlife refuges. Use it to help plan your next hunting adventure. If you view hunting as a means to exploration, you will find new hunting spots, new species to hunt and new experiences.

At national wildlife refuges, you can be assured of a quality hunt. Refuge hunts are carefully managed in accordance with the Refuge System’s Guiding Principles, which state: “We are land stewards, guided by Aldo Leopold's teachings that land is a community of life and that love and respect for the land is an extension of ethics.”
 

Last updated: November 21, 2012