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West Coast Wildlife Refuges May See Access for Youth Hunters

Refuge Association

U.S. Department of Wildlife may allow youth hunters access to off-limits wildlife refuges.

On June 9, 2015 U.S. wildlife managers proposed the first migratory bird hunt at a wildlife refuge in Oregon, as well as expanding sport fishing at other protected sites.

Allowing hunting and fishing at 21 of 560 federally protected sites could lure new sportsmen to the areas which could help generate an additional $2.4 billion a year to local economies. The access will be mainly geared towards youth hunters as more states are reporting fewer children and teens taking up hunting and fishing.

Dan Ashe the agencies director said, "The (Fish and Wildlife) Service is committed to strengthening and expanding hunting and fishing opportunities,"

The new hunting program would allow youth to hunt a 50-acre area in Tualatin River National Refuge near Portland for waterfowl this fall.

The only issue still up for debate is the respect for others who frequent the area for bird and wildlife watching, which has topped hunting in popularity in Oregon.

"You may have visitors go to the refuge for bird-watching and instead hear gunshot blasts, which I'm not sure is appropriate, " said Steve Pedery the Conservation Director for Oregon Wild.

The new proposal also plans to allow fishing in four refuges in North Dakota and expand big game hunting in the Sacramento River National Refuge in California.

Public comments on the subject are still being taken until July 13.

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West Coast Wildlife Refuges May See Access for Youth Hunters