|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
September 6, 2002
Contact: Brian DeVries, 719- 589-4021 ext. 110
Karen Miranda, 303-236-7917 ext. 431
Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge Closed to Hunting
For 2002-03 Waterfowl Season
Due to severe drought conditions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has closed the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge to all waterfowl and small game hunting during the 2002-03 hunting season, Sept. 28 - Oct 30, Nov. 2 - Feb 16. Drought conditions have severely impacted wetlands on the refuge and throughout the entire San Luis Valley, which traditionally offers some of the best early season waterfowl hunting in Colorado.
The Rio Grande is the primary source of water for maintaining refuge wetlands; flows have been far lower than ever recorded in the river in Colorado. "Of approximately 8,000 acres of wetlands that occur on the refuge, less than 450 acres have some amount of water this year,"said Deputy Refuge Manager Ron Garcia. With only five percent of refuge wetlands available to waterfowl and other migratory birds, a closed hunting area will provide crucial habitat during the fall migration.
Jeff Madison, Area Manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife in the San Luis Valley, said he fully understands and supports the decision to close the Alamosa Refuge to hunting this year. "We're expecting a depressed waterfowl hunting season throughout the entire San Luis Valley this year. We are experiencing similar conditions on all of the State Wildlife Areas in southern Colorado and expect a less than average harvest," he said .
Although water conditions on the nearby Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge also reflect the regions current drought, this refuge will remain open to waterfowl hunting. "Water conditions are poor, but Monte Vista refuge should still provide a quality hunt as the number of hunters is limited,"said Garcia. The Alamosa/Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge Complex limits the number of hunters during the first two weekends of the first split of the waterfowl season. Selection of hunters on the Monte Vista refuge for these days is determined by a lottery drawing. The number of hunters allowed to use the refuge during these weekend days is expected to be less than half of what is normally permitted.
If water conditions change, the closure may be reconsidered. For additional information contact the Alamosa/Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge at 719-589-4021.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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