U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Monday proposed new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities in 30 national wildlife refuges, including Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and Wisconsin, and John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia.
If finalized, this would bring the number of places in the National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 377, and the number where fishing would be permitted to 312.
“As stewards of our public lands, Interior is committed to opening access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down this American heritage,” Zinke said in a statement. “These 30 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for American sportsmen and women across the country to access the land and connect with wildlife.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal would open more than 248,000 acres to hunting and fishing and takes steps to simplify regulations to more closely match those of states.
The changes would be implemented in time for the 2018-2019 seasons.
The majority of the refuges in the most recent proposal would expand hunting opportunities, and four would expand fishing opportunities along with hunting in three of them.
Zinke is seeking to expand existing migratory game bird hunting and open sport fishing for the first time at San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California.
The secretary also wants to expand existing migratory game bird, upland game and big game hunting and fishing at Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana. The proposal calls for expanding fishing at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
It also would expand existing migratory game bird hunting and fishing at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in New York and New York.