National Wildlife Refuge System

Hunting/Fishing Plan Public Comment Period Extended to September 15

The Refuge System is considering new outdoor skills programs and centers to recruit new outdoor enthusiasts, like these waterfowl hunters.
Credit: USFWS
The hunting and fishing plan for the Refuge System calls for expanded fish stocking for special events
Credit: Larry Jernigan

Want more hunters and anglers to visit wildlife refuges? And better experiences for them when they arrive? The Conserving the Future Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation implementation team has proposed a 13-element action plan to do that – and more. 

The draft plan proposes guidance for new fish stocking programs as well as improvements to Web design and social media along with kiosks and other informational signs to help anglers and hunters. Additionally, the plans calls on the Service to review the process for opening or expanding hunting and fishing on refuges by 2014, with an eye toward streamlining the process. 

Among the recommendation in the plan are:

  • Training programs for Fish and Wildlife Service and state employees who manage hunt and fish programs;
  • Expanded fish stocking for special events and larger sustained fishing opportunities;
  • Improved accessibility of hunting blinds and observation decks, boat ramps and other outdoor facilities;
  • Online abundance ratings for fished and hunted species and a bird finding guide;
  • Outdoor skills programs and centers to recruit new outdoor enthusiasts, including expansion of such existing programs at Becoming an Outdoors Woman, Hunter Education, Archery in the Schools and Outdoors without Limits;
  • Consideration of new or improved outdoor opportunities when refuge comprehensive conservation plans are developed.

Hunting and fishing in America have a rich tradition.  After generations of exploiting fish and wildlife for food and profit, public outcry demanded a change. People like Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell joined others to form the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, leading the charge for change. They played a key role in the formation of early national parks, national wildlife refuges and forest reserves. It was concerned sportsmen of that day who spawned much of the early conservation movement in the United States.

Today, there are more than 33 million anglers in the United States and nearly 14 million hunters who spent approximately $90 billion on these and related activities in 2011.

Hunting is now available on 329 national wildlife refuges while fishing is offered on 271 refuges.  Online hunting and fishing guides enable visitors to search for recreational opportunities by state, type of game or fish and special interests like hunts accessible to people with disabilities as well as youth hunting and fishing.

The hunting and fishing plan is open to public comment until September 15. Comments can be made online or by emailing


12 Hidden Gems for Hunting and Fishing – USA Today, August 10, 2013

Last updated: August 12, 2013