The case for this apparently very successful approach is outlined in a press release dated March 5, 2014, as follows:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced the agency will expand hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, opening up new hunting programs on six refuges and expanding existing hunting and fishing programs on another 20 refuges. The rule also modifies existing refuge-specific regulations for more than 75 additional refuges and wetland management districts.
The Service manages its hunting and fishing programs on refuges to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.
“For more than a century, hunters and anglers have been the backbone of conservation in this country and a driving force behind the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “By providing more hunting and fishing opportunities on refuges, we are supporting a great recreational heritage passed down from generation to generation, creating economic growth in local communities and helping to ensure that conservation stays strong in America.”
Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service can permit hunting and fishing where they are compatible with the refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on more than 335 wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on more than 271 wildlife refuges.
“Hunting and fishing are time-honored ways to enjoy the outdoors and teach people to value nature,” said Director Ashe. “Our National Wildlife Refuge System has millions of acres of public land and water to provide quality hunting and fishing experiences. We hope these expanded hunting and fishing programs will allow more Americans to experience this connection with nature.”
Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities on national wildlife refuges help stimulate the economy and generate funding for wildlife conservation. Banking on Nature, a Service report released in November, showed refuges pumped $2.4 billion into the economy. Across the country, refuges returned an average $4.87 in total economic output for every $1 appropriated in Fiscal Year 2011.
Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation.
The press release also contains a list of the refuges affected by the above policy change, one of which — Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge — is here in New York.
An article I read recently pointed to progressively falling numbers of hunters throughout the USA and the financial effect this is having on National Wildlife Refuges, etc.
It was suggested that consideration be given to charging money for some sort of license or permit to allow people to do wildlife photography on such lands.
From my point of view as an immigrant, America’s NWR system is enviable, both in its scope and accomplishments, and I — for one — would certainly not object to paying for such a license if that would help preserve the habitats and therefore the wildlife.