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Hunting, fishing expanded at wildlife refuges, hatcheries

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced today the opening and expansion of more than over 850 hunting and fishing opportunities across more than 2.3 million acres at 147 national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries, the largest expansion of such opportunities by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in history.

The final rule opens or expands 859 hunting and fishing opportunities, with an opportunity defined as one species on one field station in one state. This is on top of last year’s expansion of 1.4 million acres for new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities.

This rule increases the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System open to public hunting to 430 and those open to fishing to 360. The rule also formally brings the total number of National Fish Hatchery System units open to hunting or sport fishing to 21.

The final rule includes 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.

Expansions of refuge opportunities include existing big-game hunting onto new acres at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in Washington state and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Texas; season dates for existing pheasant hunting at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in California; and 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.

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 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.

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