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Minnesota hunters and anglers now have more opportunities thanks to final U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule expanding sporting access on refuges and hatcheries


August 19, 2020

Since day one, the Trump administration has prioritized recreational access to public lands, particularly for hunting and fishing. These two great American pastimes have formed the bedrock of the nation’s wildlife conservation efforts, generating more dollars for habitat protection and restoration than any other outdoor pursuit. Today, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped grow that legacy by finalizing a rule to open additional hunting and fishing opportunities in Minnesota and across the country. This brings the total expansion to over 4 million acres nationally since President Trump took office.

“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 U.S. 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.”

“The Trump Administration and Secretary Bernhardt have made access to public lands for hunting and fishing and other outdoor recreation a priority beginning day one. Hunting and fishing are a part of our American history, and we continue to ensure we provide opportunities for these activities which epitomize our American heritage,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “Furthermore, we have maintained our commitment to promoting good government by reducing the regulatory burden by working with states to facilitate these outdoor activities.”

In Minnesota, two national wildlife refuges are adding hunting opportunities. This includes expanding existing white-tail deer hunting to include an archery season at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge. For complete details of the final rule in Minnesota see below.

“I am happy to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalize this rule that will expand hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands in Minnesota and across the country. Minnesota is home to many sportsmen that will benefit from this increased access and I applaud the agency’s efforts to support our state’s outdoor traditions,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-07).

“We applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in providing expanded opportunities for safe, regulated hunting in national wildlife refuges in Minnesota,” said Whitetails Unlimited President Jeff Schinkten. “Access to hunting areas is critical for hunting of all types and we are seeing an increase of new and returning hunters this year. When state and federal agencies work together to expand access and manage wildlife populations the real winner is the conservation of our natural resources. Thanks to everyone who worked on this project to expand hunting and fishing opportunities in the Northern Tallgrass Prairie and Rydell National Wildlife Refuges.”

Since the creation of the very 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 U.S. 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.

For more information, view interactive maps of hunting and fishing opportunities, and a webpage of all environmental documents related to openings and closings at all 147 affected stations.

• Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge: Opening 467.76 newly acquired acres in accordance with the refuge’s 2014 Hunt Plan and 2019 Sport Fishing Plan.

• Rydell National Wildlife Refuge: Opening hunting of 14 species on 1,836 acres: ducks, geese, American coots, American woodcock, mourning doves, gray (Hungarian) partridge, ruffed grouse, prairie grouse (sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken), ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, rabbits and hares and tree squirrels. Expanding existing whitetail deer hunting to include archery season.

The final rule will publish in the Federal Register and will be available at, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws/gov.


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