Expansion of Hunting, Fishing Proposed on 21 Refuges

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced Wednesday as part of Great Outdoors Month that the agency is proposing to expand fishing and hunting opportunities on 21 refuges in 15 states throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The proposed rule also modifies existing refuge-specific regulations for more than 100 additional refuges and wetland management districts.

“The Service is committed to strengthening and expanding hunting and fishing opportunities,” Ashe said. “By expanding hunting and fishing programs across the Refuge System, we are furthering a rich tradition of providing quality recreational opportunities to the American people. These programs support local economies, help people connect with the outdoors, and encourage people to value nature.”

National Wildlife Refuge System Logo 2 10-14National wildlife refuges provide premier outdoor recreational opportunities across the Nation. There are more than 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts, including one within an hour’s drive from most major metropolitan areas. The Service manages refuge hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation when they are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on 335 wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on 271 wildlife refuges.

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities on refuges help stimulate the economy and generate funding for wildlife conservation, according to the USFWS. The Service’s report Banking on Nature shows that refuges pump $2.4 billion into the economy and support more than 35,000 jobs. More than 47 million people visit refuges every year!

Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation, and interpretation.

The Service proposes opening the following refuge to hunting for the first time:


The Service proposes opening the following refuges to sport fishing for the first time:

North Dakota

The Service also proposes expanding hunting and sport fishing on the following refuges:









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



New Jersey/New York



The Service is seeking comments from the public for 30 days regarding information pertaining to the proposed rule. Please go to www.regulations.gov Docket No. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2015-0029 for additional information. The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on June 11, 2015, comments must be received by July 13, 2015.

To view a complete list of all hunting/sport fishing opportunities on refuges, click here.


Top Photo: A father and son are shown at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

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