NDA Applauds Proposal to Expand Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges

June 7, 2019 | by National Deer Alliance

The National Deer Alliance applauds the recent proposal announced by U.S. Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to expand hunting and fishing access at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries across 42 states totaling 1.4 million acres of public lands and waters. The move would add five national wildlife refuges that offer public hunting, taking the total from 377 to 382. A complete list of the refuges and hatcheries included in the proposal can be found here.

“The National Deer Alliance supports this important step by Secretary Bernhardt and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to offer additional hunting and fishing opportunities to sportsmen across the country,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO. “We know through extensive surveys that one of the main reasons people either quit or never start hunting is due to the lack of a quality place to go, and this proposal would certainly help to address that issue.”

As stated in the Department of Interior press release, the Refuge System is an unparalleled network of 567 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. More than 55 million Americans visit refuges every year. National wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and boating to nature watching, photography and environmental education.

The proposal would also simplify certain refuge-specific regulations, such as season dates and hunting hours, making them more compatible with state regulations. “By aligning our refuge regulations with our state partners, we are reducing confusion and the regulatory burden on the American public, helping ensure the tradition and benefits of hunting and fishing can continue,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Principal Deputy Director, Margaret Everson. If enacted, the changes would be implemented in time for the upcoming 2019-2020 hunting seasons.

USFWS will soon be seeking public comments on the proposal over a 45-day period. The comment period will open once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, which is anticipated within the next few days. “We encourage all NDA members to support the proposal by writing to USFWS,” added Pinizzotto. “As straight-forward and sensible as the proposal is, there will be opposition by some so hearing from sportsmen will be important.”

To support this important proposal, visit www.regulations.gov and select docket No. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2019-0040.