On May 4th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal for new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges and on the lands of one national fish hatchery. You can read BHA’s press release here.
What do these proposals mean for northern New England? A lot! Below is a summary of proposed changes and links to proposed plans on eight refuges spread across our region. Access and opportunity are essential to our hunting and fishing way of life, so expanding both on our publicly owned National Wildlife Refuges is something we should get behind.
Franklin Island National Wildlife Refuge: Open duck, light goose, dark goose, coot, sea duck, rail, snipe, and woodcock hunting, which opens migratory bird hunting for the first time.
Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge: Expanding existing deer, bear, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, fox, hare, skunk, squirrel, woodchuck, porcupine, grouse, snipe, woodcock, sea duck, duck, light goose, dark goose, and rail hunting on new acres.
Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge: Open duck, sea duck, coot, light goose, and dark goose hunting on new acres, which opens the refuge to migratory bird hunting for the first time.
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge: Expand existing white-tailed deer, bear, moose, coyote, woodchuck, porcupine, squirrel, grouse, bobcat, hare, raccoon, skunk, snipe, woodcock, duck, sea duck, light goose, and dark goose hunting on new acres.
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge: Extend season dates for existing groundhog and squirrel hunting.
Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge: Open opossum and furbearer hunting on new acres and acres already open to other hunting, and expand existing moose, deer, turkey, bear, coyote, fox, groundhog, grouse, pheasant, porcupine, raccoon, skunk, rabbit, squirrel, duck, dark goose, light goose, and woodcock hunting and sport fishing on new acres and new waters.
Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge: Open coyote, skunk, opossum, weasel, fox, and raccoon hunting on acres already open to other hunting.
Green Lake National Fish Hatchery: Formally open sport fishing for the first time by providing access to hatchery property on the shore of Green Lake.
Don’t sit back and assume we will see these changes in the next regulation publication. These are proposals, not rules. There is currently an open comment period and the US Fish and Wildlife Service needs to hear from you. If you recreate on any of the above-mentioned lands, or any New England National Wildlife Refuge, and can share a story about how they are important to you, please do so.
The USFWS is seeking public comments on the proposed rule until July 6th, 2021. Click Here to comment through BHA Action Alert system and be sure to customize your letter as agencies give weight to unique responses.