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USFWS proposes expanding hunting in 10 wildlife refuges

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

-- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to open Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota to deer and turkey hunting, while expanding hunting activities at nine other refuges in eight states. If approved, the proposal would provide additional public hunting opportunities in fulfillment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.

In addition to the first time deer and turkey program at Crane Meadows, other proposed changes include:

 Colorado:  Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge would increase big game hunting by offering elk hunting for the first time. The refuge also allows migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and fishing.

 Louisiana:  Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge would open for the first time to migratory bird hunting of waterfowl and coot. The refuge also allows fishing.

 Mississippi: Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge would open for the first time to migratory bird hunting of duck and geese, upland game hunting of squirrel, rabbit and raccoon, and big game hunting of deer and hogs. The refuge also permits fishing.

 North Carolina:  Currituck National Wildlife Refuge would open for the first time to big game hunting of deer and hogs.

 Minnesota:  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge would increase acreage for migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting.

 Minnesota/Iowa:  Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge would increase acreage for migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting. The refuge would expand the species for migratory bird and upland game hunting.

 Utah:  Ouray National Wildlife Refuge would allow for the first time upland game hunting of turkey and big game hunting of elk. The refuge also allows migratory bird hunting and fishing.

 Minnesota:  Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge would open new areas to migratory bird hunting. It would allow big game hunting of turkey and deer for the first time. The refuge is also open for fishing.

 Texas:  Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge would open three new units to upland game hunting of squirrels and rabbits and big game hunting of feral hogs and white-tailed deer. The refuge is also open for migratory bird hunting and fishing.

While definitions of hunting categories vary by refuge and state, migratory bird hunting generally includes ducks and geese. Upland game hunting may cover such animals as game birds, rabbit, squirrel, opossum and coyote. Big game hunting may include such animals as wild turkey, deer and feral hogs.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service can permit hunting and fishing as well as four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation where they are compatible with refuge purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on more than 300 national wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on more than 270 national wildlife refuges. Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation.

Notice of the proposal was published in the Federal Register July 5; the public has until Aug. 4 to comment.

Public comments on the proposed hunting rule changes can be submitted electronically at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.  Enter Docket No. FWS-R9-NSR-2011-0038, click on the Search button.  On the resulting screen, find the correct document and submit by clicking on Submit a Comment.

Comments can also be sent by US mail to Public Comments, Processing, Attn:  FWS-R9-NSR-2011-0038; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA  22203.

All comments will be posted online at http://www.regulations.gov.  This includes personal information provided.

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