Just in time for hunting season, today Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced major expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on our country’s public lands. Hunters and anglers will have new opportunities at 77 National Wildlife Refuges and 15 National Fish Hatcheries. The majority of these expanded opportunities are found in the Western United States and include special places like Wyoming’s Seedskadee NWR which will now be open to white-tailed deer and elk hunting on its 24,437 acres. In Colorado, the Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery will be open to sport fishing for the first time in it’s history. In Arizona, seven National Wildlife Refuges ranging from Havasu to Kofa will expand hours, season date ranges, and the methods of take.
“This is the largest single effort to expand hunting and fishing access in recent history,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “President Trump has made increasing public access and streamlining government functions priorities of his administration, and this new rule delivers on both fronts given the unprecedented expansion of public acreage and removal or revision of 5,000 hunting and fishing regulations to more closely match state laws. This is a big win for sportsmen and sportswomen across the country and our collective conservation efforts.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016. Over 101 million Americans — 40 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older — pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.
Prior to opening units for hunting and fishing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service develops specific management plans for each refuge or hatchery and ensures continued compliance through annual reviews. Through responsible habitat and species management more Americans will have the opportunity to hunt and fish on their public lands.
The final rule also cuts red tape by simplifying over 2,900 refuge specific regulations to comply with President Trump’s mandate to reduce the regulatory burden on the public.