The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the opening of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in Michigan to migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting for the first time, while expanding hunting activities at 16 national wildlife refuges in 14 states. Notice of the 2012-2013 Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations published in the Federal Register on September 11, 2012. The rule allows for additional public hunting opportunities in fulfillment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.
Notice of the proposed rule change was published in the Federal Register on July 11, 2012; public comments were accepted through August 10, 2012.
“By expanding hunting in our National Wildlife Refuge System, we are supporting a heritage that has been handed down from generations and helping to achieve the goal of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to connect Americans to the natural world through outdoor recreation,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Hunters have been a mainstay of conservation in America for more than 100 years, and expanding hunting opportunities helps ensure that we will have the resources to care for our wildlife and its habitat in the future.”
“The National Wildlife Refuge System, one of America’s greatest conservation success stories, is committed to offering quality hunting and fishing programs — for all Americans — wherever they are compatible with refuge purposes,” said Service Director Dan Ashe.
The rule will close Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, HI, to big game hunting. With this change, the refuge will be closed to all hunting activity. The refuge is also closed to sport fishing. The new rule will also close Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC, to migratory bird hunting. The refuge is open to sport fishing.
All but two of the refuges affected by the rule change will remain open to sport fishing.
Other changes include:
While definitions of hunting categories vary by refuge and state, migratory bird hunting generally includes ducks and geese. Upland game hunting may cover such animals as game birds, rabbit, squirrel, opossum and coyote. Big game hunting may include such animals as wild turkey, deer and feral hogs.
Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service can permit hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreational uses where they are compatible with refuge purpose and mission. Hunting, within specific limits, is permitted on more than 300 national wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on more than 270 national wildlife refuges. Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife observation, photography, interpretation and education.
To find hunting programs offered in the National Wildlife Refuge System, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/. To find the final regulations in the Federal Register please visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-09-11/pdf/2012-22099.pdf
The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the Service, is the nation’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife and plants.