Fishing, Hunting Could Expand But Animal Rightists Have A Say

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Continuing the Trump Administration’s significant efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced today a historic proposal for new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities across more than 2.3 million acres at 97 national wildlife refuges and 9 national fish hatcheries. This proposed rule is the single largest expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in history.

Editor’s Note” Below this story is information on how to comment. Everyone has a say in this including animal rights groups who are already promoting among their members and via social media to comment AGAINST these hunting and fishing expansions.

“America’s hunters and anglers now have something significant to look forward to in the fall as we plan to open and expand hunting and fishing opportunities across more acreage nationwide than the entire state of Delaware,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hunt Fish Chiefs have been instrumental in our effort over the past two years to streamline our regulations and identify new opportunities for sportsmen and women like no other previous administration.”

This proposed rule would create nearly 900 distinct new hunting and fishing opportunities (an opportunity is defined as one species on one field station in one state). On top of last year’s expansion of 1.4 million acres for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities, this proposal would bring the Trump Administration’s total expansion to 4 million acres nationwide.

“Once the Trump Administration’s effort to eliminate the threat of COVID-19 has been successful, there will be no better way to celebrate than to get out and enjoy increased access for hunting and fishing on our public lands,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “I deeply appreciate everything sportswomen and men do for conservation and our economy, so I am delighted when we can do something to expand opportunities for them. I hope it will help encourage the next generation of hunters and anglers to continue on this rich American tradition.”

This proposal would bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 399 and the number where fishing is permitted to 331. In addition, this rule proposes to formally open lands on nine units of the National Fish Hatchery System to hunting or sport fishing.

“The National Wild Turkey Federation is pleased that the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remain committed to removing barriers for hunting and fishing by increasing access and opportunities,” said CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation Becky Humphries. “Reducing barriers to hunting has been a key aspect of the NWTF’s hunter recruitment and retention efforts. The Service’s proposal to open 2.3 million acres ties directly to those efforts.”

“Today’s announcement by Secretary Bernhardt is welcome news for sportsmen and conservationists across the country. Expanded hunting and fishing access creates enhanced opportunities to better conserve and protect the environments we serve,” said Coastal Conservation Association Florida Chairman J.D. Dickenson. “Opening more than 2 million acres of federal lands for public access not only boosts our economy but provides a gateway to transformative outdoor exploration and conservation opportunities for today’s sportsmen and for generations to come.”

“On behalf of Safari Club International and our members, thank you President Donald Trump and Secretary David Bernhardt for continuing to prioritize American sportsmen by opening up and expanding opportunities across 2.3 million acres of public lands,” said Safari Club International (SCI) CEO W. Laird Hamberlin. “Hunting and fishing are an integral part of our nation’s culture, economy and care for the land. Increasing access and opportunities for people to take part in our sporting heritage strengthens broader conservation efforts. By delivering on their promise to improve and increase hunting and fishing access, this Administration continues to be a champion for America’s sportsmen, wildlife and wild places.”

“RMEF applauds Secretary Bernhardt for proposing to expand public hunting and fishing access at the nation’s wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries,” said President & CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation R. Kyle Weaver. “The 2020-2021 station-specific proposed rule for these facilities gives hunters and anglers new opportunities and access to 2.3 million acres of public lands and waters, building on the 1.4 million acres the Secretary opened and expanded access to last year. Opening and securing quality public access for hunters, hikers, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy lies at the heart of the RMEF mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Expanded access at refuges and hatcheries gives recreationists immediate opportunities to practice safe, social distancing while enjoying the outdoors and long-term benefits to wildlife management.”

“The initiatives by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in 2019 to increase hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, are unprecedented,” said Executive Director of the Houston Safari Club Foundation/Houston Safari Club Joe Betar. “We look forward to the Department of the Interior’s continued expansion of public land access for recreation in 2020.”

New proposed refuge opportunities include the opening of migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting, and sport fishing at Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in Florida for the first time; the opening of Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming to upland game and big game hunting for the first time; and the opening of sport fishing for the first time and the expanding of existing migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting to new acres at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia.

Proposed expansions of refuge opportunities include the expansion of existing big game hunting to new acres at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in Washington state and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Texas; the expansion of season dates for existing pheasant hunting at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in California; and the expansion of existing migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting, big game hunting and sport fishing to new acres at Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota.

Proposed changes at hatcheries include the formal opening of lands on Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Michigan to migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting; the formal opening of lands on Berkshire National Fish Hatchery in Massachusetts to sport fishing; and the formal opening of lands at Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery in Washington State to migratory bird, upland game and big game hunting.

The proposed rule also continues the effort from last year’s rule toward revising refuge hunting and fishing regulations, so they more closely match state regulations where the refuge is located. This year’s rule also takes a further step in proposing revisions that ensure whenever refuge regulations depart from state regulations, for safety or conservation compatibility reasons, these extra regulations are consistent across all refuges in a given state. The Department worked closely with the states in preparing the proposed rule

The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register on April 9, 2020. The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013, and will include details on how to submit your comments.

The Department intends to finalize the proposed changes in time for the upcoming 2020-2021 hunting seasons. A complete list of all refuges and hatcheries in the proposal is available in the proposed rule. View an online list and map.

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5 Comments

  1. Ed Schmidt says:

    Throughout human history, animals have existed to feed humanity.
    If humanity is the only being on the planet who has a concept called God, then everything in the food chain exists to support the beings who can praise the Creator of the Universe.
    That does not exempt humanity from acting compassionately and intelligently in managing the resources, including all animals, but it does require that mankind use all of the resources that God has provided to maintain our ability to praise the Creator.

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  2. Doug Vrazel says:

    I have been hunting and fishing for over 50 years and during that span of time have seen the hunting culture change and mature dramatically for the good. I know of no other group of people other than hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen (i.e. ducks unlimited, elk organization, Safari Club and many more) that do more for conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The fact is, it is critical for us to foster the next generation of hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen (and women!) so that the connection with our outdoor resources continues into the future. Thank you President Trump and the folks who will oversee opening these new opportunities to enjoy our valuable American Outdoors.

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  3. Welton says:

    That is truly awesome ! people in this world and young people need a chance to be a participant (not just an observer) in the outdoors with full understanding about managing a resource there is no reason at all not to hunt and fish and they are such a pure special experience that only participants can really understand I hope for opportunities for others to feel this way. The money spent by outdoorsman is what keeps wildlife and fishing a float with studies in management and populations, funding Parks and recreation area. True sportsman keep the poachers at Bay (both with funding and being out there monitoring) that would deplete a resource the anti hunters and outdoors people really should take a quick peek to understand how true this is , especially funding without the hunters and fishermen the wildlife and fishing would be in big big trouble.

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  4. Dennis Wells says:

    Most hunters and fisherman/women I know are some of the most enthusiastic conservationists in the country. I applaud opening public lands and fisheries. Being an avid bass fisherman I want to ensure all outdoors sporting activities are available for my children and grandchildren. This is a two pronged effort; 1) Availability which this action provides and 2) Conservation which most outdoors people ensure.

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  5. Don Bloodworth says:

    I have been an avid hunter, fisherman, and camper for 50 years. We provide a very important part of the control of wildlife population. I recall many years ago that the deer population in several states got over burdened due to limit restrictions. The deer begain to develop luechemia (forgive my spelling
    I’m a sportsman not a doctor). Hunting and fishing are a vital part in keeping population in check. Please proceed with the expansion of the opening of more public lands for us to use. Thank you.

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