Service Director Dan Ashe today announced the agency will expand hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, opening up new hunting programs on six refuges and expanding existing hunting and fishing programs on another 20 refuges. The rule also modifies existing refuge-specific regulations for more than 75 additional refuges and wetland management districts. The Service manages its hunting and fishing programs on refuges to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.
The President's Fiscal Year 2015 discretionary budget request supports $1.5 billion in programs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an increase of $48.8 million over the 2014 enacted level to fund the agency's high priority needs. The budget also includes approximately $1.3 billion available under permanent appropriations, most of which will be provided directly to states to support fish and wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation.
A small lake north of Anchorage, Alaska was buzzing with activity as the sun began to rise over the mountains and nearly two dozen volunteers from the Service's Alaska Regional Office, Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Bass Pro Shops prepared for the arrival of members of 16 Girl Scout Troops from Anchorage and nearby communities of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. By 9:00 a.m., holes were drilled in the ice; tables were loaded with fishing equipment, and warming tents with hot cocoa were ready for children looking to take a break from the cold.
Many wildlife species benefit when duck hunters, artists and conservationists collaborate to protect vital habitat through the 80-year-old Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp). Duck hunters over the age of 16 are required to carry the stamp. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from sale of the $15 Federal Duck Stamp go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports the purchase of wetland habitat for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Participation in hunting, angling and wildlife-associated recreation showed a 3-percent increase from 2006 to 2011, with the increase primarily among those who fished and hunted, according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The survey is conducted every five years by the Service and the Census Bureau. Hunters, anglers and many other people who enjoy wildlife-related outdoor recreation also contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, according to the survey, which noted that more than 90 million U.S. residents 16 years old and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011.
Since its inception in 1937, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program (WSFR) has generated more than $16 billion, which state fish and wildlife agencies use to purchase public land, improve essential wildlife habitat, and create additional outdoor opportunities for everyone.
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