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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Seeks Comments on Draft Sport Hunting Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2007


Contacts:

Mindy Gautreaux, Acting Project Leader, (318) 253-4238
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291


In response to a 2003 lawsuit filed by the Fund for Animals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will amend or rewrite environmental assessments that describe hunting programs at 23 national wildlife refuges located in the Southeast Region. The new environmental assessments will address the cumulative impacts of hunting at all refuges which were named in or otherwise affected by the lawsuit. A draft Sport Hunting Plan and revised Environmental Assessment for Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Avoyelles Parish is available for a 30-day public review beginning March 5, 2007. The comment period will end April 5, 2007.

The plan describes three alternatives for hunting on the refuge: (1) Alternative A, or the Proposed Action would establish a recreational hunting program for species including deer, feral hogs, ducks, geese, gallinules, coots, woodcock, dove, snipe, rails, rabbit, nutria, coyote, and beaver in areas along Little California Road and limited areas south of HWY 1194 would be open, while all other areas would remain closed as migratory bird sanctuary areas; the hunt program would comply with all State, Federal, and refuge-specific regulations, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service policies and directives; (2) Alternative B, or the No Action alternative would not allow recreational hunting to occur on Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge; there would be no change in public use opportunities or management strategies on the refuge; and (3) Alternative C, or the final alternative, would open the entire refuge to hunting, thus allowing recreational hunting on all areas of Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge.

Copies of the plan are available for review at the refuge and at the Avoyelles Parish Library (Marksville Branch), located at 104 N. Washington, Marksville, LA.

Written comments, requests for the plan, or questions can be directed to Mindy Gautreaux, Acting Project Leader, at 401 Island Road, Marksville, LA 71351; (318) 253-4238. Email comments can be provided to the following address: mindy_gautreaux@fws.gov.

Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 6,077 acres and is located in west-central Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana and lies south of Highway 1, west of Highway 115 and north and east of Highway 114. The Refuge was established in 1989 to provide wintering habitat for mallards, pintails, and wood ducks and production habitat for wood ducks to meet the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Additional objectives of the refuge include providing habitat for threatened and endangered species, providing habitat for a natural diversity of plant and wildlife species, and providing opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and environmental education when compatible with other refuge objectives.

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 94 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 542 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.

 


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov/southeast or http://www.fws.gov/.



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