Why it matters: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which manages national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries, annually supports more than 2.5 million hunting days and almost 8 million fishing days, making these lands and waters a critically important place for hunters and anglers. It is important that as the System seeks to grow through acquisition that hunting, and fishing opportunities should help guide these expansions.
The National Wildlife Refuge System currently consists of 567 refuges, including 427 that are open to hunting and 376 that are open to fishing. Since its inception, the System has been a critically important place for America’s sportsmen and women.
In an effort to ensure future expansions for fish and wildlife dependent recreation and to highlight the long-standing history of hunting and fishing with the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and approximately 30 other hunting and fishing conservation organizations and related businesses released a report to help guide the future of the System.
Specifically, the report includes 12 tenets including a request that proposals for new or expanded national wildlife refuges should be developed through a public process that includes hunters, anglers, state fish and wildlife agencies, private landowners, and others, that public access should be established or retained to support hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities, and 10 other strategic recommendations to increase sporting access.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with partners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand hunting and fishing opportunities within the System.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?