Zinke proposes expansion of fishing and hunting access at wildlife refuges

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U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a proposal to open or expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 national wildlife refuges on Wednesday.

If finalized, the plan would bring the number of refuges where the public may hunt to 373, and to 312 where fishing would be permitted, the Interior Department said.

“I grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana, where I spent my time hunting and fishing on our shared public lands. I was lucky to take my boys out on the same land that my dad and granddad took me,” said Zinke in a statement.

The refuges are in Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

“As the steward of our public lands, one of my top priorities is to open up access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down the heritage,” Zinke said. “The last thing I want to see is hunting and fishing become elite sports. These 10 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for sportsmen and anglers across the country to access the land and connect with the wildlife.”

“With Secretary Zinke's leadership, the team at the Fish and Wildlife Service is happy to expand hunting and fishing opportunities where they are compatible with wildlife management goals,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acting director Greg Sheehan said.

“Sportsmen and anglers play a huge role in the conservation of wildlife and their habitat, so it only makes sense that refuges provide opportunities for folks to get outside to hunt and fish,” Sheehan added. “Refuges provide all Americans with places to hunt, fish, observe the natural world firsthand and experience the great outdoors.”