The Trump administration is expanding hunting and fishing in 77 national wildlife refuges, in what it says is a bonus for hunters and anglers, but what critics contend is deferring management to states with potential harm to wildlife.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a final rule posted Tuesday in the Federal Register that 2,200 square miles will open in 37 states. The rule will have little impact on Washington, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.
“Not much direct impact with the exception of some expanded waterfowl hunting opportunity in intertidal areas off of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge,” WDFW waterfowl specialist Kyle Spragens said in an email. “But we are actively working cooperatively with regional and refuges’ USFWS personnel to identify expanded migratory gamebird (duck, goose and dove) opportunities.”
Both national wildlife refuges in the Spokane area – Turnbull and Little Pend Oreille – allow hunting. The Little Pend Oreille Refuge allows hunting during the WDFW’s established fall seasons and allows spring turkey hunting. The Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge allows elk hunting and youth waterfowl hunting.
Fish and Wildlife says some 5,000 regulations have been eliminated or simplified at the national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries to match state regulations.
It’s the latest effort by the Trump administration to open public lands to recreation and industry, including oil and gas drilling, that critics say is coming at the expense of the environment and wildlife.
Eli Francovich contributed to this report.
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