A plan that will guide management of the 187,000-acre Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for the next 15 years has been released to the public for comment. Located in Harney County, the Refuge was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 to protect colonial nesting bird populations and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The Refuge is currently open to hunting, but the USFWS intends to expand existing hunt opportunities. Under Alternative 2, the preferred action alternative, upland game hunting would open three weeks earlier than under the current program. Existing waterfowl hunt areas would be tremendously expanded by opening a portion of the south-central area of Malheur Lake, adding a new boat launch at headquarters, and by opening the Buena Vista Unit.
Additionally, the existing youth hunt program would be promoted, access in certain areas improved, and the Refuge staff would add accessible facilities for disabled waterfowl hunters in the Buena Vista hunt unit. The comment period on the plan is open until May 4. The plan can be reviewed by going to http://www.fws.gov/pacific/planning and comments can be emailed to FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Please include “Malheur NWR DCCP/EA” in the subject line.
For further information you may call the Refuge at (541) 493-2612. It is crucial that hunters express support for the USFWS’s proposals to expand hunting opportunities and access on the Refuge because the USFWS can then demonstrate public support for devoting staff and funding to promoting and enhancing hunting. Hunters need to be engaged in the planning process to effectively counter the rhetoric from the animal rights lobby that hunting should be banned in wildlife refuges.