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Hunting, Fishing Programs on Eight Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuges Closed due to Hurricane Katrina


September 21, 2005

Tom MacKenzie,
USFWS, 404-679-7291

Eight national wildlife refuges in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama remain closed until further notice due to damages from Hurricane Katrina. Many of these refuges have active public use programs, including hunting and fishing. Currently, these refuges are closed to all public access, including access for hunting and fishing.

Many of the closed national wildlife refuges would have opened their hunting programs in September or October. The exact dates of each refuge's hunting program vary, depending on refuge and state-specific regulations.

Once the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is able to thoroughly assess the damage to each refuge and can eliminate safety hazards, the refuges will reopen to the public.

“We anticipate being able to resume hunting and fishing on the affected refuges soon,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. “But the hardest hit refuges may take months to recover, and public safety is a top priority.”

Several of the national wildlife refuges (NWR) that were closed after the hurricane have now reopened. Grand Bay NWR in Mississippi has reopened, but some of its areas are still closed to public access. Other Gulf Coast refuges that have reopened in Mississippi are St. Catherine Creek NWR in Sibley and Noxubee NWR in Brooksville. In Alabama, Choctaw NWR in Jackson has reopened. In Louisiana, the following Gulf Coast refuges are now open: Atchafalaya NWR in Whiskey Bay; Bayou Teche NWR in Franklin; Cat Island NWR in St. Francisville ; Mandalay NWR in Houma; and Tensas NWR in Tallulah.

For updates on closure status, visit For dates and information on individual refuge hunting and fishing programs, visit and link to each individual refuge’s website for downloadable hunting and fishing brochures.

Closed National Wildlife Refuges


Bayou Sauvage NWR – New Orleans
Big Branch Marsh NWR - Lacombe
Bogue Chitto NWR – Pearl River
Breton NWR – Gulf of Mexico
Delta NWR - Venice


Bon Secour NWR – Gulf Shores (majority of refuge closed since Sept., 2004 due to Hurricane Ivan)


Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR - Gautier
St. Catherine Creek NWR – Sibley (This refuge is scheduled to open on September 23.)

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, 64 fishery resources 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 and Native American tribal 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.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at or

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:, Atlanta, GA 30345, phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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