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Interior Department Moves to Expand Hunting and Fishing in Wildlife Refuges

The Interior Department, under the Trump administration, is aiming to expand hunting and fishing in the country’s wildlife refuges. Maine is expected to have expanded hunting and fishing in three wildlife refuges, with further expansion to occur in 30 refuges across the country.

The announcement came from Ryan Zinke, U.S. Interior Secretary, on Monday. Expansion will open up 250,000 acres to new hunting and fishing access.

Maine’s proposed expansion will open up hunting and fishing trips, and would expand to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in both York and Cumberland counties. Wild turkey and white-tailed deer hunting will be expanded in the counties under the proposal. Migratory game bird hunting, big game hunting and upland game hunting would be expanded in the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge.

New Hampshire-Maine’s border will also see an increase in hunting on the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. Turkey hunting in the area will be open for the first time. Hunting in all of the areas under proposed expansion in the national parks is already allowed in certain areas.

Proposed rules have yet to be released, but the Interior Department claims the rules will be available in the next few days.

“As stewards of our public lands, Interior is committed to opening access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down this American heritage,” states Zinke

Hunting in areas where traffic is too heavy will not be allowed. Evaluation on whether or not hunting is appropriate in the area will take place. A case-by-case evaluation will take place to determine which areas will receive expansion.

Current laws allow hunting on 337 wildlife refuges and fishing in 277 wildlife refuges.

Expansion will also occur into the Cold Springs Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Hunting of big game, upland game and migratory game bird will be allowed. Upper Klamath Lake Refuge will also open up hunting of migratory game bird.

Sport fishing will be expanded at the William Finley Refuge.

Washington and Idaho will not be impacted by the proposals. Expansion into the two states has yet to be proposed.

The proposals will also simplify the regulations on hunting and fishing. The changes would go into effect early enough for the 2018 – 2019 season. Public input on the proposals is currently being taken and will be for a month before the proposal is officially filed. A final decision will follow after the official filing is complete.

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