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Outdoors blog

Hunting, fishing options could expand on 26 national wildlife refuges

A flock of pintail ducks in flight. (Jaime Johnson)
A flock of pintail ducks in flight. (Jaime Johnson)

HUNTING -- The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge in North Idaho and the Willapa Refuge in Western Washington are among 20 federal refuges that could see hunting opportunities expanded under a proposal released today by Interior Sally Jewell.

In addition, six refuges in four states would be opened to hunting for the first time.

While waterfowl hunting already is allowed at the Kootenai Refuge near Bonners Ferrry, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department plans to also allow limited upland bird hunting.

“Sportsmen and women were a major driving force behind the creation and expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System more than a century ago and continue to be some of its strongest supporters, especially through their volunteer work and financial contributions,” Jewell said in a statement released today. “Keeping our hunting and angling heritage strong by providing more opportunities on our refuges will not only help raise up a new generation of conservationists, but also support local businesses and create jobs in local communities.”

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service can permit hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation where they are compatible with the refuge’s purpose and mission.

Controlled elk hunts debuted in 2010 at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge south of Cheney geared primarily to reducing the habitat damage being caused by the growing herd. The refuge also hosts a limited number of youth hunters in designated blinds for Washington's special two-day youth waterfowl hunting season in September.

Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on more than 329 national wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on more than 271 wildlife refuges. Find specifics for each refuge here.

“After careful consideration and review from the Service, this proposal represents one of the largest expansions of hunting and fishing opportunities on wildlife refuges in recent years,” said Dan Ashe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director.

Read on for details on the 26 refuges involved in the proposal.

PROPOSED TO OPEN for hunting for the first time:

New York













New Mexico






Comments must be received within 30 days by Oct. 24. 

Comments will be posted online on

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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