DENVER – Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), as part of the 2018-2019 Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations process, proposes to expand hunting on over 13,000 additional acres at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (Refuge) in Utah. These additional areas would be open to waterfowl and pheasant hunting and would align with State regulations for these species. Details on the proposed alternatives for these additional hunting areas are available on the Refuge’s website. The Service aims to make a decision regarding these hunting areas in time for the 2018-2019 hunting season.
Members of the public are invited to submit comments on the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) during a 30-day public comment period through July 8. Public comments concerning the EA and its proposed alternatives can be submitted via email to BearRiverRefugehunt@fws.gov or in writing by postal mail: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, 2155 West Forest Street, Brigham City, Utah 84302.
Following the public comment period, the Service will analyze comments received, publish a final EA, and make a final determination about the proposed hunting expansion. Hunting opportunities are and will continue to be authorized and provided in accordance with Federal, State, and Tribal regulations and seasons (where applicable).
If no significant changes are made to the proposal following the public comment period, and the final regulations are published as currently proposed, up to 40% of the Refuge’s acreage would be open to migratory bird hunting. These expanded hunting areas would enhance wetland and upland hunting access and opportunities for new and existing hunters now and in the future. The Refuge would also maintain opportunities for other forms of wildlife-dependent recreation and continue providing healthy habitat for native and migratory wildlife.
The proposed expansion of hunting access and opportunities on the Refuge supports objectives outlined in Secretarial Order 3356, which focuses on “efforts to enhance conservation stewardship; increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, including opportunities to hunt and fish; and improve the management of game species and their habitats for this generation and beyond.” Secretarial Order 3356 also emphasizes recruiting and retaining hunters, and engaging non-traditional audiences in America’s hunting tradition.
Hunting is one of six priority wildlife-dependent public uses of the National Wildlife Refuge System in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. Other wildlife-dependent public uses include fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation. Each of these activities are permitted when determined to be compatible with refuge management goals and are recognized as legitimate and appropriate public uses of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Refuge was created by Congress in 1928 and today contains over 77,000 acres of marsh, open water, uplands, and alkali mudflats. It is one of over 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Refuge and other wetlands associated with the Great Salt Lake provide important habitat for migrating birds, with over 250 species moving through this area annually by the millions to rest and feed.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.
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