U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes more opportunities to hunt, fish across South Atlantic, Gulf and Mississippi Basin
Atlanta, Georgia — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to expand hunting and fishing opportunities on another 500,000 acres of national wildlife refuge lands across the South. If approved, the new regulations will take effect this fall.
In all, 22 refuges will offer more than 110 new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities — new species to hunt, more acres to hunt and more times to hunt.
“We continue to build upon our recent successes to expand our recreational offerings,” said Leo Miranda, an avid hunter and regional director for the South Atlantic-Gulf & Mississippi Basin. “Hunting and fishing are intrinsically Southern ways of life that also further our conservation work and boost local economies.”
Last month, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities across more than 2.3 million acres nationwide — the single largest expansion in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service history.
One-fourth of the newly opened lands would be in the South. Last year, the region added 125,000 acres of hunting and fishing opportunities at refuges and hatcheries. Each year, the Service further streamlines regulations to more closely align hunting and fishing regulations with the states.
“The announcement from Secretary Bernhardt was the result of years of collaboration and hard work between the progressive leadership of the Service, state agencies, and the conservation NGO community,” said Chuck Sykes, director of Alabama’s Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division.
The Service, for example, proposes opening an additional 102,455 acres at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee refuge in south Florida for sport fishing, as well as duck and coot hunting.
At Dahomey refuge in Mississippi, the Service proposes new hunting opportunities for upland game and migratory birds, and a new dove season.
“Now more than ever, we need to be enhancing access to our wonderful natural resources,” said Sykes who’s also president of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “I certainly hope we use these monumental accomplishments to offer more opportunities in the future.”
The Service is seeking comments from the public on the proposed rule. The notice is available at regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013, and will include details on how to submit comments.
The Department intends to finalize the proposed changes in time for the upcoming 2020-2021 hunting seasons. See the list of refuge and hatchery opportunities in the South in the table below.
|Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge||Expand season dates and hours for existing dove, duck and goose hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||Alabama, Georgia|
|Overflow National Wildlife Refuge||Open woodcock hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||Arkansas|
|Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge||Expand white-tailed deer and incidental take of feral hogs on new acres and existing acres, and expand migratory bird hunting and sport fishing to new acres.||Florida|
|St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge||Expand existing upland game and big game hunting to new acres, and expand method of take for existing upland game and big game hunting.||Florida|
|St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge||Expand method of take for existing upland game and big game hunting.||Florida|
|Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge||Open migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting, and sport fishing to align with state regulations.||Florida|
|Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge||Open alligator hunting for the first time.||Georgia|
|Savannah National Wildlife Refuge||Open alligator hunting in South Carolina and alligator, armadillo, beaver, opossum and raccoon hunting on acres already open to other hunting in Georgia.||Georgia, South Carolina|
|Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge||Open beaver, bobcat, fox, skunk, otter, muskrat, mink and weasel hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||Kentucky|
|Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge||Open raccoon hunting on acres already open to other hunting, and expand season dates and hours for migratory bird and squirrel hunting.||Louisiana|
|Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge||Expand method of take for existing white-tailed deer hunting.||Louisiana|
|Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge||Open woodcock hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||Louisiana|
|Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge||Open coyote, beaver, opossum and skunk hunting on acres already open to other hunting and expand season dates for raccoon.||Louisiana|
|Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge||Expand season dates for existing goose, squirrel, feral hog and wild turkey hunting.||Louisiana, Mississippi|
|Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge||Open rail, coyote and beaver hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||Mississippi|
|Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge||Open dove, rail, coyote, beaver and nutria hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||Mississippi|
|Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge||Open dove, rail, coyote, beaver and nutria hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||Mississippi|
|Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge||Expand season dates for existing teal hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||North Carolina|
|Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge||Expand season dates for existing migratory bird hunting to align with state regulations for youth.||North Carolina|
|Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge||Expand season dates for existing teal hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||North Carolina|
|Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge||Open incidental take of coyote hunting on acres already open to other hunting.||South Carolina|
|Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge||Open dove, crow and opossum to hunting on acres already open to other hunting, expand season dates for squirrel and white-tailed deer hunting, and expand existing goose hunting to new acres.||Tennessee|
Dan Chapman, public affairs specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org, (404) 245-7211
Mark Davis, public affairs specialist
email@example.com, (404) 556-7074
- Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
- National Wildlife Refuge System
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
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