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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Seeks Comments on Draft Sport Hunting Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge


March 7, 2007


Mindy Gautreaux, Acting Project Leader, (318) 253-4238
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291

In response to a 2003 lawsuit filed by the Fund for Animals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will amend or rewrite environmental assessments that describe hunting programs at 23 national wildlife refuges located in the Southeast Region. The new environmental assessments will address the cumulative impacts of hunting at all refuges which were named in or otherwise affected by the lawsuit. A draft Sport Hunting Plan and revised Environmental Assessment for Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in West Feliciana Parish is available for a 30-day public review beginning March 5, 2007. The comment period will end April 5, 2007.

The plan describes three alternatives for hunting on the refuge: (1) Alternative A, or the proposed action would establish a recreational hunting program for species including deer, turkey, feral hogs, ducks, geese, gallinules, coots, woodcock, squirrel, rabbit, nutria, raccoon, coyote, and beaver at Cat Island NWR; a portion of the refuge (about 800 acres) would remain closed to hunting to develop environmental education and interpretation sites, and the hunt program would comply with all State, Federal and refuge-specific regulations and Service policies and directives; (2) Alternative B, or the no action alternative would not allow recreational hunting to occur on Cat Island NWR; visitors would be prohibited from taking any game species during approved State hunting seasons and there would be no change to the current public use and management strategies at the refuge; and (3) Alternative C, or the third alternative would open the entire refuge to hunting on all areas of the refuge open to public use.

Copies of the plan can be requested from the refuge and copies are available for review at the West Feliciana Parish Library, located at 11865 Ferdinand Street in the Historic District of St. Francisville.

Written comments, requests for the plan, or questions can be directed to Mindy Gautreaux, Acting Project Leader, at 401 Island Road, Marksville, LA 71351; (318) 253-4238. Email comments can be provided to the following address:

The Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge is currently 9,623 acres and is located in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. The refuge is within an area historically known as the “Cat Island Swamp", which is a peninsula bound by the Mississippi River to the north, west and south and by a ridge to the east. The refuge is completely inundated by the river almost yearly. Cat Island NWR was established to conserve, restore, and manage native forested wetland habitats for migratory birds, aquatic resources, and endangered and threatened plants and animals. Additionally, it was created to encourage the use of volunteers and facilitate partnerships among the Service, local communities, and conservation organizations to promote public awareness of refuge resources and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

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 94 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 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 Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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