U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Expanding Hunting in Two Wildlife Refuges
Wyoming may have two new or expanded hunting opportunities on federal lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said Wednesday.
Bernhardt made the announcement at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio, and the two Wyoming areas are among 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to a news release.
The proposed expanded hunting and fishing opportunities are part of President Donald Trump's administration's efforts to increase access to public lands, Bernhardt said.
“Hunting and fishing are more than just traditional pastimes as they are also vital to the conservation of our lands and waters, our outdoor recreation economy, and our American way of life," he said.
These are the two areas in Wyoming that may be affected:
Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge: The 1,968-acre refuge of mixed grass and sagebrush has wetlands and five small lakes. Under the proposal, the refuge would be open to migratory game bird hunting -- duck, mergansers, geese and coot -- for the first time.
Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge: The 27,230-acre refuge includes riparian, wetland and upland shrub habitat along 36 miles of the Green River northwest of Green River. The proposal would open white-tailed deer and elk hunting for the first time on the areas of the refuge already open to other hunting.
The proposal outlines a comprehensive revision and simplification of all refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations to more closely match state regulations. The Fish and Wildlife Service worked closely with the states in preparing the proposed rule.
If approved, it would increase the number of units in the Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt from 377 to 382, and the number where fishing would be permitted would be increased from 312 to 316. It also would formally open lands on 15 hatcheries of the National Fish Hatchery System to hunting or sport fishing for the first time.
The Fish and Wildlife Service will seek public comment on the proposed rule for 45 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register. The notice with docket number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2019-0040 can be found here, and will include details on how to submit comments.
The Service intends to finalize the proposed changes in time for the upcoming 2019-2020 hunting seasons. An interim copy of the proposed rule is now available.
A complete list of all refuges and hatcheries included in the proposal is available in the proposed rule.