Delta Waterfowl Applauds U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Historic Expansion of Hunting Access on National Wildlife Refuges

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Delta Waterfowl commends U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a proposed expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 2.3 million acres at 97 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries. Announced yesterday, the proposal marks the largest single expansion of refuge hunting access ever proposed by the USFWS. Access has annually increased since 2018.

“This is wonderful news for Delta Waterfowl members and supporters at a time when we all need something positive to look forward to,” said John Devney, senior vice president of Delta Waterfowl. “With anticipated approval of these recommendations in time for the 2020-2021 hunting seasons, this expansion creates exciting new opportunities for duck and goose hunters when we hit the field this fall.”

As in the case of previous refuge-access expansions, The Duck Hunters Organization provided the USFWS with a list of priority refuges for opening or expanding waterfowl hunting access. This input was a grassroots effort in partnership with Delta’s regional events directors, volunteers and members across the United States.

Among the list of refuges to see expansion of waterfowl hunting opportunities, 10 were among those prioritized by Delta Waterfowl, including: Lower Rio Grand Valley NWR (Texas), Crab Orchard NWR (Illinois), Muskatuck NWR (Indiana), Rydell NWR (Minnesota), Black Bayou NWR (Louisiana), Trustom Pond NWR (Rhode Island), Blackwater NWR (Maryland), Bombay Hook NWR (Delaware), Fort Niabrara NWR and Crescent Lake NWR (Nebraska).

“I’m pleased that these refuges prioritized by Delta will be open to waterfowl hunting under the proposal,” Devney said. “We look forward to working jointly with USFWS and the Dept. of Interior toward adding greater geographical diversity and to better expand and enhance waterfowling opportunities in the wildlife refuge system.”

In total, 54 of the 103 national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries noted by the proposal would increase waterfowl hunting opportunities. Those likely to have an especially significant impact include:

  • Bombay Hook NWR ,where additional acreage will be open to waterfowl hunting.
  • Blackwater NWR, where additional acreage will be open to waterfowl hunting.
  • Crab Orchard NWR, where lottery restrictions on waterfowl hunting will be removed.
  • Crescent Lake NWR, where additional acreage will be open to waterfowl hunting.
  • Wichita Mountains NWR where more than 53,000 acres will be open to waterfowl hunting for the first time.

More than a dozen refuges/hatcheries will make waterfowl hunting available for the very first time. That list includes:

  • Leslie Canyon NWR and Cabeza Prieta NWR (Arizona)
  • Everglades Headwaters NWR (Florida)
  • Muscatatuck NWR (Indiana)
  • Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (Michigan)
  • Rydell NWR (Minnesota)
  • Fort Niobrara NWR (Nebraska)
    ·Fallon NWR (Nevada)
  • Wichita Mountains NWR (Oklahoma)
  • Hart Mountain NWR and Wapito Lake NWR (Oregon)
  • John H. Chaffee NWR (Rhode Island)
  • Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (Washington).

A complete online list and map of all refuges and hatcheries in the proposal are available by going to these links:

https://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2020/2020-2021-Station-Specific-Hunting-and-Fishing-Proposed-Rule-Narratives.pdf

https://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2020/2020-2021-Station-Specific-Hunting-and-Fishing-Proposed-Rule-Map.pdf

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule changes for 60 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register on April 9, 2020. Delta Waterfowl encourages all members to express support for the proposal by logging on to regulations.gov and selecting docket number FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013 to submit comments.

For more information, contact John Devney 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 secure the future of duck hunting in North America.