More hunting and fishing opportunities open nationwide

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The US Department of the Interior gets bigger access to hunting and fishing on approximately 2.1 million acres of Fish and Wildlife Service land – an area almost the size of Yellowstone National Park.

The action applies to 88 national wildlife refuges and one hatchery, and the agency says it is the largest expansion of recreational opportunities on FWS lands in recent history. While the Trump administration extended the opportunities to more acres last year (2.3 million), this year’s change includes more options to hunt certain species in new locations – 910 according to the tally of the agency.

“Nine hundred and ten opportunities just sound great to us,” said Land Tawney, who heads Montana-based Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “We look forward to seizing these opportunities this fall. “

In the Mountain West, new opportunities include mountain lion hunting in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, deer and American antelope hunting in the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming. , and hunting for American antelope and sandhill crane at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in Utah, among others. Find the complete list here.

Encouraging recreation at these fish refuges and hatcheries also funds conservation, Tawney said. It highlights taxes on guns and ammunition, fishing licenses and other fees like “duck stamps,” which waterfowl hunters over the age of 16 must purchase in the United States.

“We’re doing things to make sure we have wildlife in perpetuity,” he said.

Some conservation groups have fought the expansion, expressing concern that shelters should not be open to hunting and fishing at all.

“Wildlife refuges are meant to be sanctuaries for wildlife like mountain lions and bears, as well as endangered species,” said Randi Spivak, director of the public lands program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It does nothing to address the wildlife extinction crisis or Biden’s claim to want to protect 30% of our land and water by 2030.”

However, Jessica Sutt of the Mountain-Prairie region of the Fish and Wildlife Service said the shelters were legally created for this type of recreation.

“We demand to offer wildlife dependent recreation whenever it is compatible with the refuge. And wildlife-dependent recreation is hunting and fishing, ”she said. “By law, we encourage hunting and fishing wherever possible on US Fish and Wildlife Service public lands. “

Sutt said it was also a way to manage certain species and was part of an effort to align state and federal regulations on hunting and fishing.

In a statement, Home Secretary Deb Haaland said: “Improving access to outdoor recreation opportunities is critical to advancing the administration’s commitment to the conservation stewardship of our land. public lands.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Nevada Public Radio, Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana , KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with the support of affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Public broadcasting company.


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