July 12, 2021

USFWS Plans for Increased Access and Opportunities in New Hampshire and Vermont


Why it Matters: The National Wildlife Refuge System has a tenured history of serving as a vehicle of access and opportunity for generations of sportsmen and women. As the Hunting and Fishing Plan recognizes, the Refuge System Improvement Act established the mission of administering “a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.” For hunters and anglers venturing to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, the proposals made in the Hunting and Fishing Plan would provide an increase in real estate in which they may continue to pursue some of our nation’s most time-honored traditions.

On July 6, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter of support to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with regard to its proposed Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge Recreational Hunting and Fishing Plan (Hunting and Fishing Plan). As a part of this letter, CSF also provided four recommendations, requesting that some of the Hunting and Fishing Plan provisions remain consistent with sporting industry practices and the general hunting regulations of New Hampshire and Vermont – the two states affected by this Plan.

The first suggestion was for a modification of the hunting hours, as the Plan would only allow hunters on the refuge “30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.” Realistically, this is inconsistent with practical hunting methods, as sportsmen and women need additional time to trek to their hunting spots to set up, not to mention the fact that the pre-dawn and dusk minutes tend to be the most active for wildlife. CSF also recommended that the Hunting and Fishing Plan be modified to allow for night hunting, keeping it in line with the existing hunting regulations in New Hampshire and Vermont, which allow for the taking of several species at night. Additionally, CSF called for a modification to the Hunting and Fishing Plan to allow for the use of recorded and electronic calls by hunters, which are currently permitted by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department on species such as fox and coyotes. Finally, CSF suggested that the USFWS modify the Plan to authorize baiting where consistent with state regulations, in recognition of the invaluable management tool it provides for state fish and wildlife agencies.

CSF will remain engaged as the USFWS proceeds with increasing access and opportunities at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. CSF will provide updates as they are made available.

 [JM1]Joe to send Leslie the letter.

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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