Service Announces New and Expanded Hunting and Fishing Program on National Wildlife Refuges
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The new programs will take effect on refuges in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire, bringing the total number of refuges with hunting programs to more than 300 nationwide. Approximately 270 refuges now have fishing programs, while an additional 37 Wetland Management Districts are open to hunting and fishing.
“The National Wildlife Refuge System was created and is now sustained in large measure by the strong support of hunters and anglers. We are proud to expand hunting and fishing opportunities to fulfill the mission of the Refuge System and ensure that future generations have the ability to hunt and fish on our public lands,” said Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
The Service added the following wildlife refuges to the agency's list of units open for hunting or fishing: Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Alabama; Stone Lakes NWR in California; Stewart B. McKinney NWR in Connecticut; Assabet River NWR in Massachusetts; Glacial Ridge NWR in Minnesota; and Silvio O. Conte NWR in New Hampshire.
In addition, the Service expanded recreational hunting and fishing opportunities on seven wildlife refuges: Sacramento River NWR in California; Moosehorn NWR in Maine; Great Meadows NWR and Oxbow NWR in Massachusetts; Squaw Creek NWR in Missouri; Wertheim NWR in New York; and Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tail Deer in Washington.
The Service also published the announcement of existing opportunities on 12 wetland management districts (WMD): Big Stone WMD and Minnesota Valley WMD in Minnesota; Arrowwood WMD; Audubon WMD; Chase Lake WMD; Crosby WMD; J. Clark Salyer WMD; Kulm WMD; Lostwood WMD; Long Lake WMD; Tewaukon WMD and Valley City WMD in North Dakota.
Two wildlife refuges are being removed from the Code of Federal Regulations: The former Pocasse NWR is now managed by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and is no longer part of the Refuge System; and Rock Lake NWR in North Dakota was closed to hunting in 1996.
In 2004, there were 2.3 million hunting visits to wildlife refuges and 7 million fishing visits. By law, hunting and fishing are two of the six priority wildlife-dependent recreational uses on wildlife refuges. The Refuge System provides opportunities to hunt and fish whenever they are compatible with the purposes for which the individual national wildlife refuge was established.
President Theodore Roosevelt established the first wildlife refuge in 1903 when he ordered Pelican Island, a small shell- and mangrove-covered island in Florida's Indian River, to be protected forever as a "preserve and breeding ground for native birds." More than a century later, the Refuge System has grown to nearly 100 million acres and includes 545 wildlife refuges -- at least one in every state -- and more than 3,000 waterfowl production areas.
Wildlife refuges provide unparalleled outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, environmental education and interpretation, wildlife observation and photography. Many wildlife refuges also offer opportunities for birding tours and other activities. There is at least one wildlife refuge within an hour's drive of most major cities.
The full text of the final Refuge-Specific Regulations for Hunting and Fishing can be found on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/refuges within the "Policies and Budget" link.
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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices, and 81 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 and Native American Tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.
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