April 29, 2019

Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council Pushes for Expanded Hunting Access on Wildlife Refuges

On April 25, the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council, chaired by Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane, recognized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to increase hunting access on National Wildlife Refuge System lands and urged continued momentum on efforts to prioritize public access expansion.

This letter follows several proactive steps taken by the Interior Department to enhance access and opportunities for sportsmen and women on Refuge System lands in recent years. In 2017, Secretarial Order 3347 directed the Department to prioritize expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands as well as efforts to improve habitat for fish and wildlife. In 2018, hunting and fishing access was established or enhanced on 248,000 acres across the Refuge System.

The Council submitted a letter to commend Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for prioritizing the sportsmen’s community in his conservation initiatives and encouraged maintaining momentum on these efforts. Specifically, the Council requested a critique and reflection on access and opportunities seen in previous years, 2017 and 2018.

The letter also noted hunters’ contributions to the Refuge system over time, stating, “As you know, many refuges have been acquired through the support of hunters, most notably through the purchase of Federal Ducks Stamps.”

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?

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