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Commercial Hunt Guides Able to Apply For 17 Special Use Permits for Waterfowl Hunting at White River National Wildlife Refuge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 15, 2002

Contact:
Larry Mallard, 870/946-1468
Ray Paterra, 870/946-1468


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized its commercial waterfowl guiding program on White River National Wildlife Refuge in DeWitt, AR, for the 2002/2003 waterfowl hunting season. The refuge will be offering 17 special use permits to commercial hunt guides in an objective lottery system. The permits will have an annual renewal for up to three years with the ability for all eligible commercial guide hunters to apply. The Service believes that this program is a balanced approach to addressing the demands for commercial guide services, while meeting the growing needs of non-guided hunters.

This program is the preferred alternative that was proposed on May 3, 2002 in a draft Environmental Assessment that was released for public comment. The Service held two public meetings and received 77 comments. In addition, the Service worked closely with the State of Arkansas in developing and assessing the proposal. The Service is issuing the final Environmental Assessment and supplementary documents today to explain how the preferred alternative was selected.

"We provided extensive opportunities for the public to comment on our proposal to manage commercial guide hunting at White River National Wildlife Refuge," said Larry Mallard, Refuge Manager. "We carefully considered all of the public's comments and concerns and believe that the preferred alternative is the best approach to reduce conflicts among commercial guide hunters, between commercial guides and non-guided hunters, and provide a safe, high quality waterfowl hunting experience for the public."
Interested commercial hunt guides should submit an application to White River National Wildlife Refuge by August 12, 2002. All applications will be considered, and a drawing for permits will take place on August 23, 2002, in time for the upcoming 2002/2003 waterfowl hunting season. Permits will be issued for five hunting zones throughout the refuge and were selected based on historical hunter use, suitable waterfowl habitat, and water levels.

The Service undertook an assessment of the commercial guide hunting issue on White River National Wildlife starting in 2001 due to public concerns about the increased demand for guide hunting permits and increased public demand for waterfowl resources. The number of special use permits increased substantially in the last four years, and reports of conflicts between commercial guides and non-guided hunters have become more frequent. The Service is committed to providing a safe, high quality hunt for commercial guide hunters and non-guided hunters. The final EA provides substantial information on the need for a managed approach to commercial guide hunting on the refuge and a rationale for the preferred alternative.

For a copy of the final Environmental Assessment, which includes a detailed summary of the decision making process, questions and answers, the permit application, and all decision documents, please visit the website: http://southeast.fws.gov/whiteriver/. Applications may also be obtained by contacting White River National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 308, DeWitt, Arkansas 72042 or by telephone at 870/946-1468. For more information about the Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southeast, please visit our website at http://southeast.fws.gov.


Addendum:

Because this is a new program and uncertainties exist related to the efficacy of the program, the Service has decided to limit the term of the permit to one year. During this first year, the Service will monitor and evaluate the program and implement any necessary modifications to ensure program objectives are met in the future.


Final Environmental Assessment

Executive Summary -- Waterfowl Guiding Program on White River National Wildlife Refuge

Questions and Answers for Commercial Waterfowl Guiding on White River National Wildlife Refuge




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2001 News Releases

   
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