Announced earlier this week, Secretary Ryan Zinke has presented a proposal that would open or extend hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges.  Of the 566 national wildlife refuges across America, if approved, the proposal would allow hunting on 373 of them and fishing on 312 refuges in total.

“I grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana, where I spent my time hunting and fishing on our shared public lands. I was lucky to take my boys out on the same land that my dad and granddad took me,” Secretary Zinke said in a release. “As the steward of our public lands, one of my top priorities is to open up access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down the heritage. The last thing I want to see is hunting and fishing become elite sports. These ten refuges will provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and anglers across the country to access the land and connect with the wildlife.”

Contributing over $144 billion in economic activity across the United States, hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities are a vital portion of many economies across the country.  When it comes to managing both wildlife and hunting and fishing programs on public lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes the expansion makes perfect sense.

“With Secretary Zinke’s leadership, the team at the Fish and Wildlife Service is happy to expand hunting and fishing opportunities where they are compatible with wildlife management goals,” said USFWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan. “Sportsmen and anglers play a huge role in the conservation of wildlife and their habitat, so it only makes sense that refuges provide opportunities for folks to get outside to hunt and fish. Refuges provide all Americans with places to hunt, fish, observe the natural world firsthand and experience the great outdoors.”

According to the release, hunting and/or fishing will expand or be opened on the following refuges:

Georgia and South Carolina

  • Savannah River National Wildlife Refuge: Expand migratory game bird hunting, upland game and big game hunting. The refuge is already open to migratory game bird hunting, upland game and big game hunting and sport fishing.

Indiana

  • Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge: Expand migratory game bird hunting, upland game and big game hunting and sport fishing. The refuge is already open to migratory game bird hunting, upland game and big game hunting and sport fishing.

Minnesota

  • Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Expand migratory game bird hunting, upland game and big game hunting. The refuge is already open to migratory game bird hunting, upland game and big game hunting and sport fishing.

North Dakota

  • Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge: Open moose hunting for the first time. The refuge is already open to upland game and other big game hunting.
  • Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge: Open moose and turkey hunting for the first time. Expand upland game and big game hunting. The refuge is already open to upland game hunting, other big game hunting and sport fishing.

Oklahoma

  • Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge: Expand upland game and big game hunting. The refuge is already open to migratory game bird hunting, upland game and big game hunting and sport fishing.

Oregon

Wisconsin

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened the 30-day public comment period on the proposed changes and invites those interested in learning more or voicing their opinions to visit www.regulations.gov, docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2017-0005.