Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Senior Coordinator
On June 8, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter of support to the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex in support of its proposed Hunting and Fishing Plan. Overall, the proposal would permit various forms of hunting – including that on migratory bird, big game, and small game – throughout the Rhode Island NWR Complex, leading to a total of 2,071 acres, or over 80% of the 2,570 possible acres.
The five refuges identified in the Hunting and Fishing Plan include: Block Island NWR; John H. Chafee NWR; Ninigret NWR; Sachuest Point NWR; and Trustom Pond NWR. Under the National Wildlife Refuge System, hunting is recognized as one of the six priorities for public use, thereby providing just cause for opening the aforementioned refuges to such pursuits.
Currently, the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife manages over 60,000 acres of land through its 25 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). In opening hunting opportunities on the lands identified in the Hunting and Fishing Plan, the state’s sportsmen and women will have additional access. Adding over 2,000 acres in a state that is roughly 90% privately owned will significantly benefit the sportsmen and women who may not have the ability to access privately-owned property. As has been empirically proven, access is a key factor in hunter participation, resulting in immediate effects on conservation funding through the sale of hunting licenses and excise taxes on hunting gear through the American System of Conservation Funding.
For additional information, CSF encourages you to review the Rhode Island NWR Complex Hunting and Fishing Plan, which provides a detailed look into each of the five refuges mentioned, along with the expanded opportunities for sportsmen and women. CSF will remain engaged with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on this matter, and will provide further updates as they are available.
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?