The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the opening of Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota to big game hunting of deer and upland game hunting of turkey for the first time, while expanding hunting and fishing activities at nine other refuges. Notice of the final 2011-2012 Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations published in the Federal Register on September 9, 2011.
More than 250 comments were received during the 30-day public comment period on the proposed expansion. Only 18 comments opposed the amended regulations.
“The National Wildlife Refuge System, a vital part of our shared natural heritage, offers Americans more than 320 hunting programs across the country. The Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to these programs – especially for youth and those with disabilities – wherever they are compatible with refuge purposes,” said Service Director Dan Ashe.
Among the changes are:
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.
The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 directs the Service to permit hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation where they are compatible with refuge purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is offered on more than 300 national wildlife refuges. Fishing is offered on more than 270 national wildlife refuges. Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation.
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-2011-09-09/pdf/2011-22752.pdf
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