247 more acres proposed: Hunting access at refuge may be expanded

Larry Limpf

The public can comment on a proposal to open nearly 247 additional acres at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to hunting of migratory game birds and upland and big game animals, the refuge has announced.
Under the proposal, the refuge will allow hunting on three areas known as the Dellinger (96.4 acres), York (73.2 acres) and Schiller (77.5 acres) units. On all units, migratory birds, big game and upland game may be hunted in accordance with state regulations, seasons and bag limits. However, there are refuge-specific regulations for upland game “fur bearers.”
Migratory birds, including waterfowl, moorhen/gallinule, American woodcock, mourning dove, coot and Wilson’s snipe could be hunted under the proposed change as could game such as white-tailed deer and wild turkey and upland/small game, including cottontail rabbit, fox, squirrel, coyote, ring-necked pheasant, raccoon, opossum, skunk, woodchuck and American crow.
Nationwide, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to expand hunting and fishing access on more than 2.3 million acres at 97 federal refuges and nine fish hatcheries.
This year’s proposal is the largest single expansion in the FWS’s history. Last year, the service expanded access by 1.4 million acres.
The proposal also revises hunting and fishing regulations to more closely match state regulations where the refuges are located. It also ensures that where the state and federal regulations diverge, such as for safety or conservation compatibility reason, the regulations are consistent across all refuges in a state.
Hunting and fishing last year generated almost $1 billion in excise taxes that support state conservation programs. The funds stem from taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and boat fuel that is distributed by the FWS in all 50 states.
To date, the FWS has distributed more than $22.9 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects. State wildlife agencies have contributed another $7.6 billion, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.
The FWS National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation estimates hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities generated more than $156 billion in economic activity in 2016.
Draft documents covering the proposed change at the Ottawa refuge will be available for public review until later this month. Documents are available at the refuge website https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Ottawa/.
The refuge can also be contacted by phone: 419-898-0014 or by email Ottawa@fws.gov to request print or electronic copies.
Comments can be submitted to the refuge by mail at 14000 W. State Route 2, Oak Harbor, Oh. 43449 or email.
The FWS will accept comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days, beginning with publication in the federal register on April 9.


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