Hunting and fishing have formed the bedrock of the United States’ wildlife conservation efforts, generating more dollars for habitat protection and restoration than any other outdoor pursuit. Today, the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service helped grow that legacy by finalizing a rule to open additional hunting and fishing opportunities in Missouri and across the country. This brings the total expansion to over 4 million acres nationally in the past four years.
“On the heels of President Trump signing the most significant conservation and recreation funding in US history, providing nearly $20 billion over the next 10 years to fix and conserve the American people’s public lands, the Trump Administration has now made an additional 2.3 million acres accessible to new hunting and fishing opportunities,” said Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “We continue to take significant actions to further conservation initiatives and support sportsmen and women who are America’s true conservationists.”
In Missouri, three national wildlife refuges are adding hunting opportunities. This includes Great River National Wildlife Refuge, which will be opening to snipe, rail, woodcock, and dove, and fall firearm season for turkey to come into full alignment with state regulations where possible on 9,719 acres. For complete details of the final rule in Missouri see below.
“There are so many health benefits to getting outside in nature, including a positive impact to your physical and mental health,” Missouri Department of Conservation Director Sara Parker Pauley said. “Anytime we have a chance to expand outdoor recreation opportunities, including additional access to public lands to fish and hunt, and make it easily accessible to Missourians, that’s a win for our citizens and for conservation.”
Since the creation of the first national wildlife refuge by President Theodore Roosevelt, refuges have been places where wildlife is managed to ensure healthy populations for future generations of Americans to enjoy. Responsible hunting has always been a part of that management equation. Refuge managers complete rigorous environmental studies to ensure each hunting opportunity is consistent with their conservation goals. Hunting and fishing are not allowed on all refuges, but the Fish and Wildlife Service makes every effort to permit them where possible and compatible.
Hunting and fishing generate millions of dollars in revenue for states each year from the sale of licenses and tags. Additionally, excise taxes on firearms and ammunition, as well as sport fishing equipment and boating fuel, generate more revenue for states for wildlife management and public recreation; in 2020 alone the Service will distribute nearly $1 billion to states under the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.
- Great River National Wildlife Refuge: Opening to snipe, rail, woodcock and dove, and fall firearm season for turkey to come into full alignment with state regulations where possible on 9,719 acres in both Missouri and Illinois.
- Middle Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge: Opening to furbearers and migratory birds to come into full alignment with state regulations where possible on 8,084.5 acres in both Missouri and Illinois. Specifically: Open new hunting opportunities for migratory game birds on Meissner Island Division, Wilkinson Island Division and Beaver Island Division (3,958 acres). Open new hunting opportunities for upland game Meissner Island Division, Harlow Island Division, Beaver Island Division, Horse Island Division, Rockwood Island Division, Crains Island Division and Wilkinson Island Division (8,084.5 acres)
- Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge: Opening 143 acres in Missouri (Portage Island division) for the first time to migratory game bird, upland game, and big game hunting.