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Thursday, June 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Extreme cold prompts early waterfowling partial closure at Umatilla Refuge

A retriever fetches a duck for a waterfowl hunter near the Columbia River. (Rich Landers)
A retriever fetches a duck for a waterfowl hunter near the Columbia River. (Rich Landers)

HUNTING -- Citing the extreme weather, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is closing part of the Whitcomb Unit of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge to hunting early this season in order to protect waterfowl. The partial closure starts today, weeks before the end of the duck and goose hunting seasons.

The agency announced today that workers will begin knocking corn and other crops down in refuge fields to provide food for ducks and geese. Without a hunting closure this would create what’s known as a ‘baiting’ situation. In Washington, it is illegal to hunt waterfowl in areas where food has purposely been provided.

The refuge is along the Columbia River in both Washington and Oregon.

“The unseasonable cold we’ve been experiencing is stressing wildlife,” said Lamont Glass, refuge manager. “Surveys of waterfowl in the area show that two-thirds are in poor condition.  When it’s this cold, and with snow covering other food sources, waterfowl need additional resources in order to survive.”

Glass added, “any disruption in hunting is a difficult decision for us, but there is a crucial need to provide additional food sources for wildlife.”

This closure will impact around 2,000 acres of the Whitcomb Unit in Washington. The rest of the unit and all other hunting areas in the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge will remain open through the end of the season.

Contact refuge managers at (509) 546-8333 or

See a map of the closed area here.

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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