Public Comment on Potential Hunting Expansion

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge requests public comment on a newly released draft Environmental Assessment (EA), Hunt Plan and Compatibility Determination proposing expansion of hunting opportunities.


The hunt plan, which could replace the 1984 Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Hunt Plan, would maintain big game (elk and deer) hunting programs, while also adding waterfowl, turkey, feral hog, and coyote hunting.

The 2019 Hunt Plan would open all refuge waters (e.g., lakes, pond, creeks), except Quanah Parker Lake, in the Public Use Area to waterfowl hunting during the state designated season (November through January). This includes Lake Elmer Thomas at the base of Mount Scott, Crater Lake near the Visitor Center, and French Lake and Lost Lake near the Dog Run Hollow Trail System among other refuge waters. Youth turkey and spring turkey hunts would be opened through controlled hunts in various areas, including the public use area. The plan will also allow for the incidental take of feral hogs and coyotes for hunters permitted to hunt the controlled elk, deer, and turkey hunts in their designated hunt unit. The table below further explains the proposed changes:

Species

General Dates of Hunt

Elk, white-tailed deer, coyote and feral hogs:  Controlled hunts; only centerfire rifle

One 2 ½ day hunt for deer in November.  One to four 2 ½ day hunts from November (after the deer hunt) to February for elk. Hunters are assigned to hunt units.

Turkey:  Controlled hunts;

Only shotgun, muzzleloader (federally approved lead-free non-toxic shot only), bow (no crossbow)

One 3-day youth hunt and one 3-day Spring Turkey season (April/May).  Hunters are assigned to hunt units.

Waterfowl:  Shotgun (federally approved lead-free non-toxic shot only)

Ducks, Geese, Merganser, Coots – Same as statewide season, except closed during elk/deer controlled hunts.  Open on all refuge waters (e.g., lakes, pond, creeks), except Quanah Parker Lake, in hunt units A, B, and J.  Closed after 1:00 pm daily.

 

Public hunts have been offered on the refuge since 1969 with the introduction of rifle hunting for Rocky Mountain Elk and the expansion to rifle hunting for white-tailed deer in 1984. Elk and deer hunting occurs throughout the refuge (10 hunt units) with the exception of areas outside the boundary fence, areas with high public use, primarily around buildings, roads, public use facilities, and administrative facilities. Areas historically open to controlled elk and deer hunting will continue to be hunted for those species. All hunts will continue to be administered in cooperation with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).

Draft Hunting Expansion Environmental Assessment
Draft Hunting Compatibility Determination

Draft Hunt Plan

Copies of the documents may also be obtained by visiting Refuge Headquarters between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily or by electronic request to wmr_publiccomment@fws.gov. Comments should be mailed to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, 32 Refuge Headquarters, Indiahoma, OK 73552, or sent via email to wmr_publiccomment@fws.gov. In order to be considered, all comments must be received by 11:59 p.m., July 7, 2019.

All comments on the draft CD are considered public records. Anonymous, oral, and social media comments will not be considered. The Service will take all submissions from individuals, organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. Individual respondents may request that their names and addresses are withheld from the public record. If you wish to withhold your name and/or address, you must state that request prominently at the beginning of your comment. The Service will honor such requests to the extent allowed by law. Please note that due to public disclose requirements, the Service, if requested, may have to make the names and addresses of those who submit written comments public.