The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced a proposal for new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges and on the lands of one national fish hatchery. This proposed rule would open or expand 939 opportunities for hunting or sport fishing (an opportunity is one species on one field station). The expansion proposed in this rule is the largest in recent history—including last year’s proposed rule which itself was larger than the previous five rules combined.
These proposed changes include five refuges in the Pacific Northwest. They are:
- Camas National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho: Camas National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho: Open 8,111 acres to elk hunting, including 5,521 acres being opened to hunting for the first time. Expand hunting to allow dove hunting on 2,590 acres that are currently open to migratory and upland game bird hunting.
- Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho: Expand existing sport fishing by allowing night fishing access to Deep Creek for burbot.
- Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon: Expand hunting on 40,870 acres that are currently open to hunting by extending hunting seasons for migratory and upland game birds on the Buena Vista and South Malheur Lake Units to align with state seasons. It would also open the 36,218-acre Buena Vista Unit to mule deer hunting.
- William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon: Open a portion the Snag Boat Bend Unit of the refuge to waterfowl hunting for the first time, and to expand existing black-tailed deer hunting on the refuge to include the Snag Boat Bend Unit.
- Julia Butler Hanson Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer in Oregon and Washington: Expand the refuge’s existing waterfowl hunting to include the shoreline of the Westport Unit in Oregon.
Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016, according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 101 million Americans—40 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older—pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.
This action proposes to bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 434 and the number where fishing will be permitted to 378. The rule also proposes to formally bring the total number of National Fish Hatchery System units open to hunting or sport fishing to 22.
Read more about this proposed rule on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website here.