U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Largest Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

by Emily Morgan

Hunters and anglers looking for a new place to toss a line or stalk game, you’ve got big news coming your way. On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced new opportunities for hunting and fishing at 90 different national wildlife refuges and one national fish hatchery.

This new proposal would be the largest expansion of opportunities for access to hunting and fishing. The initiative is part of the Department of Interior’s hopes to increase recreational access on public lands.

According to a statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this proposal would include turkey hunting and sport fishing in Florida at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. It would also aim to open migratory game bird hunting to some regions of Texas, along with big game hunting. The department would also open areas of Virginia for similar activities.

Martha Williams, Service Principal Deputy Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, commented on the idea. “We are committed to ensuring Americans of all backgrounds have access to hunting and fishing, and other recreational activities on our public lands. Hunters and anglers are some of our most ardent conservationists, and they play an important role in ensuring the future of diverse and healthy wildlife populations.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New Initiative Hopes to Further Connect People with Nature

She added, “Our lands have also provided a much-needed outlet to thousands during the pandemic, and we hope these additional opportunities will provide a further connection with nature, recreation, and enjoyment.”

Another proposed initiative would allow fishing at the Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Maine. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to expand by the upcoming 2021-2022 hunting seasons. The department’s website has a complete list of the planned expansions. Moreso, the proposal also continues the effort from previous rules toward revising refuge hunting and fishing regulations.

There are 70 national fish hatcheries visited by more than one million people each year. They offer opportunities for viewing the operations and learning about fish and other activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, sightseeing, nature study, birdwatching, and photography.

The National Wildlife Refuge System oversees 567 national wildlife refugees and 38 wetland districts.

Moreover, the Refuge System receives more than 59 million annual visits. National wildlife refuges provide necessary habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation. They operate activities that range from fishing, hunting, and paddling to nature watching, photography, and education on the environment.

The Service manages hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations. It also offers other wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.