More than 26,000 acres at Havasu and Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuges will be opened to expanded hunting opportunities this fall season, thanks to a ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The decision expands hunting and sport fishing at 70 national wildlife reserves and 15 national fish hatcheries through 2020, as the Fish and Wildlife Service removes about 2,100 regulations. According to Fish and Wildlife, this will reduce the regulatory burden on the public. Announced last week by the Forest Service, the decision will affect 800,000 acres of Arizona land, and 600,000 additional acres of public land throughout the country. For many refuges, the removal of federal restrictions over hunting will be a measure to bring policies in line with state laws, Fish and Wildlife Service officials said.
The service proposed 832,170 acres across seven national wildlife refuges in Arizona be expanded during the 2019-20 hunting season, and Fish and Wildlife will cooperate with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to add new opportunities to the public over the next three years, the agency reported last week. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, hunting at Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge will be extended by 15 days, while Havasu National Wildlife Refuge will see 205 additional days of hunting. In extending its hunting season, however, the Havasu refuge will incur about $8,500 in additional expenditures.
At Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, the Fish and Wildlife Service says methods of taking and hunting migratory game birds, and upland game hunting will be expanded throughout 1,142 acres. At Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, migratory bird hunting seasons will be extended across 25,197 acres.
Designated areas of the Havasu refuge will remain closed to visitors April 1 through Aug. 31, and Oct. 1 through the last day of waterfowl hunting season. Personal watercraft, water skiing, tubing, wake boarding and other recreational towed devices will remain prohibited at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the country’s national wildlife refuges received more than 7 million visitors in 2017.