BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Delta Waterfowl commends U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a proposal to increase hunting and fishing access at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries across 1.4 million acres. The proposal would increase the number of national wildlife refuges offering public hunting from 377 to 382.
The changes, which would be implemented in time for 2019-2020 waterfowl seasons, are the latest phase in a rollout of new public-land hunting opportunities. Last fall, 248,000 acres on 30 national wildlife refuges were opened for sportsmen and women, while in 2017, access increased by 132,000 acres at 21 national wildlife refuges.
“Delta is grateful to Secretary Bernhardt and the USFWS staff who worked to create these new opportunities for hunters," said John Devney, senior vice president of Delta Waterfowl. “Duck hunters have been leaders in investing in the National Wildlife Refuge System, so the expanded hunting access is well-deserved.”
Upon learning that the USFWS was working to increase hunting access on refuges, Delta Waterfowl collected input from the organization’s regional events directors and volunteers across the United States to develop a list of nearly 100 priority refuges for opening or expanding waterfowl-hunter access. Delta leadership shared this grassroots intel with the USFWS in June 2017.
“I’m pleased that additional refuges suggested by Delta will be open to waterfowl hunting under the proposal,” Devney said. “We are hopeful that the USFWS continues building on this progress, and that there will be more opportunities to increase access to key refuges for waterfowl hunters. Improving access for waterfowlers is a critical component of our mission to secure the future of duck hunting. It’s clear that simply lacking a good place to hunt ducks is a key barrier to recruiting, retaining and reactivating duck hunters.”
Additionally, the proposal would simplify certain refuge-specific regulations, such as hunting hours and season dates, and better align them with existing state laws.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 45 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register in the coming days. Delta Waterfowl encourages all members to express support for the proposal by logging on to www.regulations.gov and selecting docket No. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2019-0040 to submit comments.
A complete list of all refuges and hatcheries in the proposal is available here. Key lands where waterfowl hunting would expand or open include:
For more information, contact John Devney at (701) 471-4235 or email@example.com.
Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.