Delta Applauds USFWS Proposal to Dramatically Expand Hunting Access on National Wildlife Refuges

Delta Applauds USFWS Proposal to Dramatically Expand Hunting Access on National Wildlife Refuges

Log on to show your support: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FWS-HQ-NWRS-2018-0020.

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Delta Waterfowl commends U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a proposal to open 248,000 new acres to hunters and anglers on 30 national wildlife refuges across the United States.

The changes, which would be implemented in time for 2018-2019 waterfowl seasons, are proposed on the heels of a measure last fall that expanded access for sportsmen and women across 132,000 acres at 21 national wildlife refuges.

“This is likely the most sweeping increase in opportunities for U.S. waterfowl hunters that we’ll see in our lifetimes,” said John Devney, Delta Waterfowl senior vice president. “The Duck Hunters Organization celebrates Secretary Zinke’s continued efforts to offer waterfowlers better access to quality hunting.”

Upon learning that the USFWS was working to increase hunting access on refuges, Delta Waterfowl collected input from the organization’s regional events directors and volunteers across the United States to develop a list of nearly 100 priority refuges for opening or expanding waterfowl-hunter access. Delta leadership shared this grassroots intel with the USFWS in June 2017.

“I’m pleased that many refuges on Delta’s list made the final proposal,” Devney said. “Improving access for waterfowlers is a critical component of our mission to secure the future of duck hunting. Duck hunter numbers are declining at an alarming rate — which threatens both the hunting and conservation of North American waterfowl. But we know that simply lacking a good place to hunt ducks is a key barrier to recruiting new duck hunters, and a leading reason existing waterfowlers hang up their waders for good.”

The proposal is encouraging on these fronts, as are its plans to continue rolling out new acres for hunting access on an annual basis. According to Greg Sheehan, USFWS principal deputy director, these moves are long overdue.

“Many pieces of the National Wildlife Refuge System have been added over the last 115 years and could’ve been opened to hunting, but weren’t,” Sheehan said. “And until now, nobody has ever asked, ‘Why not?’ We intend to open every acre of every refuge where we have the legal authority to do so. Thanks to the support of our refuge managers, I’m hopeful next year’s batch of new acres open to hunting and fishing will be a noted increase over this year’s.”

Additionally, the proposal would simplify regulations on national wildlife refuges to make them more consistent with state laws.

“One refuge says you must have 15 shotgun shells — not more, not less — and another says you can hunt with dogs, but they must be pointing breeds,” Sheehan said. “These are the kinds of archaic rules that confuse those we’re trying to bring into the hunting world. We intend to eliminate 2,100 lines of regulations.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 30 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register in the coming days. Delta Waterfowl encourages all members to express strong support for the proposal by logging on to www.regulations.gov and selecting docket No. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2018-0020 to submit comments.

Hunting and/or fishing will expand or be opened on the following refuges:

 Arkansas

California

Florida

Illinois

Illinois and Missouri

Illinois and Wisconsin

Indiana

Maine

Maine and New Hampshire

Maryland

Michigan

Minnesota

Montana

New Jersey

New Jersey and New York

New Mexico

North Dakota

Ohio

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Utah

Wisconsin

  • Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge: Open hunting of certain gamebirds, small mammals and furbearers for the first time, and expand existing migratory game bird and big game hunting.

For more information, contact John Devney, senior vice president, at (701) 471-4235 or jdevney@deltawaterfowl.org.

Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America. 

2018-06-26T10:02:06+00:00

8 Comments

  1. Jonathan holley May 22, 2018 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Well thanks for leaving MS out, yazoo National wildlife refuge would be a awesome opportunity here in the delta for waterfowl hunters!

    • Delta Waterfowl May 24, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      It should be remembered that these refuges that are proposed to be opened represent a first step being taken by the USFWS leadership. They are working hard to increase access to additional refuges in the coming months and years as well as remove other regulatory impediments. We have submitted a list of nearly 100 refuges and will continue to work with the Service on those and other priority refuges to increase access. There is more coming.

  2. Miles Altman May 22, 2018 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Please let me know what I can do to get some refugees in South Carolina on this list for the next round.

    • Jim Ferdon May 24, 2018 at 11:52 am - Reply

      I with you on that Miles, especially the Cape Romain refuge area.
      Jim Ferdon – Georgetown

    • Delta Waterfowl May 24, 2018 at 3:07 pm - Reply

      It should be remembered that these refuges that are proposed to be opened represent a first step being taken by the USFWS leadership. They are working hard to increase access to additional refuges in the coming months and years as well as remove other regulatory impediments. We have submitted a list of nearly 100 refuges and will continue to work with the Service on those and other priority refuges to increase access. There is more coming.

  3. Burt Moritz May 23, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    What happen to Texas. They have not opened up with the law say they should have open. On the upper Texas coast we have about 380,000 Ac in refuge and less that 40,000 private with the majority of the land closed. They continue to build areas to hold the birds with no hunting . (Conservation area).They concentrate them and are step up for a major die off due to botulizem, when we get dry like in the 60’s.

    They have short stopped are geese to the point we are at an all time low. What they have not short stopped they have kill in the spring seasons.

  4. Ramsey Lippincott June 27, 2018 at 9:14 am - Reply

    (Yes Long over do ) I’ve been writing the department of the Interior for a few years now . I’m happy to hear something might change . My local Federal Refuge is poorly managed water is literally dumped in spring after the hunting season when birds need it most . Excuses for this practice go in checked ? KNWR is run with a Policy that gives each hunter a twenty acre area to hunt ? This is not allowing hunters access? Management practice need to be changed to 20 acres to hunting party . People need access to enjoy the opportunity furthermore a point system should be in place for drawing reservations. Much like the deer tag system ! I’m greatful to delta waterfowl for sharing this and hope a clear reform can be made that makes hunting enjoyable once more on Federal NWR lands .

  5. Dobie Bourg June 27, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

    What about La… biggest contributions come from here and we are the one that do without

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