U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Proposes to Expand Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

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Hunting Will Now Be Available at the Hamden Slough National Wildlife RefugeThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today 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 six 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Initially proposed in July 2006, the hunt program changes were withdrawn because of a lawsuit and subsequent court decision requiring some refuges to revise Environmental Assessments to incorporate cumulative impact analyses.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. 

Hunting opportunities at three refuges in Louisiana (Bayou Cocodrie, Tensas River and Upper Ouachita) would be increased because land has been added to the refuges.  No regulatory changes, however, are proposed for Bayou Cocodrie.  The rule also adds a turkey hunt at Upper Ouachita.

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.

To view the final rule, visit: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-12188.pdf 

To view the proposed rule, visit: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-12193.pdf

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.