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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Additional Hunting And Fishing Programs on National Wildlife Refuges


July 12 , 2005

Steve Farrell, (703)358-2247


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to add hunting and fishing programs on six national wildlife refuges in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire. The Service is also proposing to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at seven additional wildlife refuges. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 12 and is available for public comment for 30 days.

"Fulfilling the intent of the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to expand compatible wildlife dependent recreational opportunities, such as hunting and fishing, on our national wildlife refuges. We welcome hunters, anglers, bird watchers, photographers, and others who seek to enjoy the extraordinary resources on this nation’s wildlife refuges,” said Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Matt Hogan.

The Service is proposing to add the following wildlife refuges to the agency’s list of units open for hunting or fishing: Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Alabama; Stone Lakes NWR in California; Stewart B. McKinney NWR in Connecticut; Assabet River NWR in Massachusetts; Glacial Ridge NWR in Minnesota; and Silvio O. Conte NWR in New Hampshire.

In addition, the Service is proposing to expand recreational hunting and fishing opportunities on seven wildlife refuges: Sacramento River NWR in California; Moosehorn NWR in Maine; Great Meadows NWR and Oxbow NWR in Massachusetts; Squaw Creek NWR in Missouri; Wertheim NWR in New York; and Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tail Deer in Washington.

The Service is also publishing the announcement of existing opportunities on 12 wetland management districts (WMD): Big Stone WMD and Minnesota Valley WMD in Minnesota; Arrowwood WMD; Audubon WMD; Chase Lake WMD; Crosby WMD; J. Clark Salyer WMD; Kulm WMD; Lostwood WMD; Long Lake WMD; Tewaukon WMD and Valley City WMD in North Dakota.

Two wildlife refuges are being removed from the Code of Federal Regulations: The former Pocasse NWR is now managed by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and is no longer part of the Refuge System; and Rock Lake NWR in North Dakota was closed to hunting in 1996.

In 2004, there were 2.3 million hunting visits to wildlife refuges and 7 million fishing visits. By law, hunting and fishing are two of the six priority wildlife-dependent recreational uses on wildlife refuges. The Refuge System provides opportunities to hunt and fish whenever they are compatible with the conservation goals of individual national wildlife refuges.

President Theodore Roosevelt established the first wildlife refuge in 1903 when he ordered Pelican Island, a small shell- and mangrove-covered island in Florida’s Indian River, to be protected forever as a "preserve and breeding ground for native birds." More than a century later, the Refuge System has grown to nearly 100 million acres and includes 545 wildlife refuges -- at least one in every state -- and more than 3,000 waterfowl production areas.

Wildlife refuges provide unparalleled outdoor activities, including fishing, hunting, environmental education and interpretation, wildlife observation and photography. Many wildlife refuges also offer opportunities for birding tours and other activities. There is at least one wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

The full text of the proposed Refuge-Specific Regulations for Hunting and Fishing can be found on the Internet at within the"Policies and Budget" link.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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