Hunters need not fear program cuts on wildlife refuges

August 07, 1994|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Writer

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Mollie Beattie said recently that reports of the demise of hunting programs on national wildlife refuges this fall have been greatly exaggerated.

No hunting programs will be discontinued this year on any of the 250 refuges that currently allow hunting, Beattie said.

"I want to emphasize that the Fish and Wildlife Service has not changed its long-standing policy of supporting compatible outdoor recreation such as hunting and fishing within the National Wildlife Refuge System," Beattie said.

"Hunters and anglers have been in the vanguard of the wildlife conservation movement since its very beginning . . . . There is no way we are going to turn our back on this vital constituency."

However, USFWS is continuing reviews of refuge funding and compatibility issues and minor changes are possible after the reviews are completed late this year.

The compatibility review is being made to ensure that recreational and economic activities on refuges comply with the requirements of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the Refuge Recreation Act, and the 1993 settlement terms of a lawsuit brought against USFWS by several environmental groups.

The funding review is to determine whether funds are available to manage recreational programs that are not directly related to the primary functions and purposes for which a refuge was established.

Beattie said that she expects that only a "small handful" of wildlife-dependent recreation programs will be found incompatible. The refuge system comprises more than 91 million acres.

Blue crab meetings set

Tomorrow and Tuesday, the Department of Natural Resources will hold public meetings to review proposed amendments to regulations affecting the harvest of blue crabs.

The amendments define a cull ring and modify cull ring requirements, allow a total of 2,000 feet of trotline for recreational boats, change the starting time for recreational crabbers from sunrise to 5:30 a.m. in the bay and its tributaries and clarify procedures for crab pots set by riparian landowners.

The meetings, both of which will begin at 6 p.m., will be held at the NRP Upper Regional Office in Queen Anne (Routes 309 and 404) tomorrow and at the Department of Agriculture headquarters building in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Apply for deer hunt permits

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Kent County again will hold deer hunts this fall. The hunts require a refuge hunt permit, and hunters can get an application for a permit by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the refuge manager at 1730 Eastern Neck Road, Rock Hall, MD 21661.

Applications must be received by Aug. 29. A random drawing will be held on Aug. 30 at 1 p.m.

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