Department of Interior proposes expanding hunting and fishing across 2.1 million acres

Department of Interior proposes expanding hunting and fishing across 2.1 million acres

Photo credit: Dreamstime

More access and opportunity to hunting and fishing is on the horizon for those who live in the Pacific Northwest. This week, the Department of the Interior announced a proposal that would allow “for new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges,” including one national fish hatchery, according to a press release.

“We are committed to ensuring Americans of all backgrounds have access to hunting and fishing and other recreational activities on our public lands,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams. “Hunters and anglers are some of our most ardent conservationists and they play an important role in ensuring the future of diverse and healthy wildlife populations. Our lands have also provided a much-needed outlet to thousands during the pandemic and we hope these additional opportunities will provide a further connection with nature, recreation and enjoyment.”

According to the Interior, here’s the five refuges that would be affected:

  • Camas National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho: Open 8,111 acres to elk hunting, including 5,521 acres being opened to hunting for the first time. Expand hunting to allow dove hunting on 2,590 acres that are currently open to migratory and upland game bird hunting.
  • Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho: Expand existing sport fishing by allowing night fishing access to Deep Creek for burbot.
  • Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon: Expand hunting on 40,870 acres that are currently open to hunting by extending hunting seasons for migratory and upland game birds on the Buena Vista and South Malheur Lake Units to align with state seasons. It would also open the 36,218-acre Buena Vista Unit to mule deer hunting.
  • William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon: Open a portion the Snag Boat Bend Unit of the refuge to waterfowl hunting for the first time, and to expand existing blacktail deer hunting on the refuge to include the Snag Boat Bend Unit.
  • Julia Butler Hanson Refuge for the Columbian whitetail deer in Oregon and Washington: Expand the refuge's existing waterfowl hunting to include the shoreline of the Westport Unit in Oregon.

Other proposed refuge opportunities include opening the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Florida for the first time to wild turkey and sport fishing; allowing migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting in the Muleshoe and Neches River National Wildlife Refuges in Texas; and opening the Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia to migratory bird hunting and sport fishing. 

This would be the first time for all refuges that these activities would be allowed. Additionally, the Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Maine would be open to sport fishing for the first time.

Public comments are currently being collected regarding the proposed rule. You can click here for the notice, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2021-0027. The link includes details on how to submit comments. 

The rule will be finalized prior in time for the upcoming 2021-2022 hunting seasons. Stay tuned to goHUNT for further information.

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