Consistent with the steadfast commitment to allowing access to our National Wildlife Refuges and continued efforts to provide hunting and fishing opportunities, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), open, for the first time, two National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs, refuges) that are currently closed to hunting and sport fishing. In addition, we open or expand hunting or sport fishing at 16 other NWRs and add pertinent station-specific regulations for other NWRs that pertain to migratory game bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting, or sport fishing for the 2022-2023 season. We also make changes to existing station-specific regulations in order to reduce the regulatory burden on the public, increase access for hunters and anglers on Service lands and waters, and comply with a Presidential mandate for plain language standards. Finally, while the Service continues to evaluate the future of lead use in hunting and fishing on Service lands and waters, we do not plan to offer any hunting and fishing opportunities that would allow for the indefinite use of lead ammunition and tackle on the refuges included in this year's rulemaking. In this final rule, Patoka River NWR will require non-lead ammunition and tackle by fall 2026, and this refuge-specific regulation will take effect on September 1, 2026. As part of the 2023-2024 proposed rule, Blackwater, Chincoteague, Eastern Neck, Erie, Great Thicket, Patuxent Research Refuge, Rachel Carson, and Wallops Island NWRs will propose a non-lead requirement, which would take effect on September 1, 2026.
2022-2023 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations
87 FR 57108
Fish and Wildlife Service