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Service Proposes to Expand Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges


June 11, 2008


David Eisenhauer, 703-358-2284
Elsie Davis, Southeast Region, 404-679-7107

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today opened a 30-day comment period on a proposal which would increase hunting opportunities on three national wildlife refuges in Louisiana -- Bayou Cocodrie, Tensas River and Upper Ouachita. The proposal includes a new turkey hunting opportunity at Upper Ouachita.

Hunting opportunities on these three Louisiana refuges would be increased because land has been added to them.  At Tensas River, approximately 8,500 acres of newly acquired lands would be opened to hunting.  Regulations for this new acreage will be the same as the general hunting regulations on that refuge.   At Bayou Cocodrie, 1,500 acres of newly acquired lands would be opened for hunting.  Upper Ouachita would open an additional 4,762 acres to hunting on the east side of the Ouachita River. 
 Upper Quachita also proposes opening about 2,500 acres on the refuge for a one-day youth turkey hunt every year in March.

With today’s proposed rule, The Service also opened a 30-day public comment period on a proposal to add one national wildlife refuge to the list of areas open for hunting during the 2008-09 season and increase hunting opportunities at three other refuges.

The Service today also published a final rule that opens Cape May National Wildlife Refuge (New Jersey) to fishing, makes minor administrative changes, and modifies existing regulations.

Initially proposed in July 2006, the hunt program changes were withdrawn because of a lawsuit and subsequent court decision requiring some refuges to revise Environmental Assessments to incorporate cumulative impact analyses.  Refuges named in the lawsuit have completed the revised assessments, as have the seven refuges included in today’s proposed rule. 

The proposed rule, published in the June 11, 2008 Federal Register, would open Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota to migratory bird and big-game hunting.  In addition, the rule increases hunting opportunities to include migratory birds and upland game at Agassiz and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuges, in Minnesota and Maryland, respectively.  At the Whittlesey Creek (Wisconsin) National Wildlife Refuge, big-game hunting would be permitted. 

The Service also proposes removing Stillwater Wildlife Management Area (Nevada) from the list of areas open for hunting.  The land has reverted to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation management after expiration of a 50-year agreement under which the Service managed the land in partnership with two state agencies.

Some of the nation’s finest hunting can be found on national wildlife refuges, as well as excellent opportunities for fishing, wildlife photography, wildlife observation, environmental education and interpretive programs. More than 300 national wildlife refuges currently have hunting programs and more than 270 refuges have fishing programs.
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