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Hunting Opportunities to be Expanded on National Wildlife Refuges in Eight States

Friday, July 8, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is proposing to open Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota to deer and turkey hunting for the first time, while expanding hunting activities at nine other refuges in eight states. These states include: Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Minnesota, Iowa, Utah and Texas.  If approved, the proposal would provide additional public hunting opportunities in fulfillment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.

In addition to the new deer and turkey hunting programs at Crane Meadows, other proposed hunting opportunities include:  

-- Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Colorado) would increase big game hunting by offering elk hunting for the first time. The refuge also allows migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and fishing.
 
-- Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge (Louisiana) would open for the first time to migratory bird hunting of waterfowl and coot. The refuge also allows fishing.

-- Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge (Mississippi) would open for the first time to migratory bird hunting of duck and geese; upland game hunting of squirrel, rabbit and raccoon; and big game hunting of deer and hogs. The refuge also permits fishing.

-- Currituck National Wildlife Refuge (North Carolina) would open for the first time to big game hunting of deer and hogs.
   
-- Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Minnesota) would increase acreage for migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting.

-- Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge (Minnesota/Iowa) would increase acreage for migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting. The refuge would expand the species for migratory bird and upland game hunting.

-- Ouray National Wildlife Refuge (Utah) would allow for the first time upland game hunting of turkey and big game hunting of elk. The refuge also allows migratory bird hunting and fishing.

-- Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (Minnesota) would open new areas to migratory bird hunting. It would allow big game hunting of turkey and deer for the first time. The refuge is also open for fishing.

-- Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (Texas) would open three new units to upland game hunting of squirrels and rabbits and big game hunting of feral hogs and whitetail deer. The refuge is also open for migratory bird hunting and fishing.

While definitions of hunting categories vary by refuge and state, migratory bird hunting generally includes ducks and geese. Upland game hunting may cover such animals as game birds, rabbit, squirrel, opossum and coyote. Big game hunting may include such animals as wild turkey, deer and feral hogs.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service can permit hunting and fishing where they are compatible with refuge purpose and mission.

NRA played a key role in getting language included in this act making hunting a “priority public use” on National Wildlife Refuges.

The NRA encourages all its hunter members to submit comments in support of the Service’s efforts to open new refuges to hunting and to expand existing refuge hunt programs.  Despite federal law that encourages the Service to promote hunting opportunities on refuges, the anti-hunting groups always submit comments in opposition.

Please let the Service hear your voice of support for this rulemaking.  To comment on the proposed hunting rule changes online, or to read the full text of the rule go to www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R9-NSR-2011-0038-0001  Comments can be submitted by clicking on the orange box in the upper right-hand corner of the page.  The comment period closes August 4, 2011.
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