Final Hunting and Fishing Plan

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting and fishing plan for the Assabet River, Great Meadows, and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in Eastern Massachusetts.    

A draft plan was issued in March 2020, and during the 68- day public comment period, 189 unique comments and two petitions representing a total of 501 individuals or entities were received from the public. We are grateful to the many people who provided meaningful comments on the draft, which helped in developing the final plan.    

Many comments reflected an opposition to hunting and fishing in general and in particular on NWR lands. We understand and respect this viewpoint.  The legislation which guides how national wildlife refuges across the country are managed not only requires us to consider allowing wildlife observation, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, and interpretation, but further directs us to promote these activities when compatible with refuge purposes.  

Since 2005, we have managed safe and active hunt programs at Assabet River, Great Meadows, and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuges while also providing ample opportunities for wildlife observation, fishing, photography, environmental education, and interpretation.  We manage the number of hunters allowed on refuges through a permit system to ensure a safe hunt and limit interaction with other user groups.  Not one of these recreational uses have a priority over another – they are simply different ways people choose to enjoy the refuges and to engage themselves, their families, and their friends in the outdoors.   

After reviewing the public comments, we have changed some things from the draft plan, and some things stayed the same. One notable change from our draft plan would prohibit the use of rifles and handguns for hunting on all three of these refuges.  What has not changed is our commitment to provide a safe opportunity to enjoy the national wildlife refuges in Eastern Massachusetts, your national wildlife refuges. Whether it is an existing or new hunting or fishing venture, the Service will monitor these activities and adjust as necessary.  

In addition to the final hunt plan documents, you will find our answers to the public comments received in the document list below. 


Final Hunt Documents: 

All files are in .pdf format. You may need to download the files to your device before opening for viewing.  


Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge Hunt Brochure