More important info pertaining to New England Hunters. Send your comments in. We can't let the anti's have their way.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2007
For further information: Libby Herland, Project Leader
Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex
73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury MA 01776
(978) 443-4661 x11; email@example.com
Refuge Evaluates Environmental Impacts of Hunt Programs,
Invites Public Comment
In response to a national lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has evaluated the long-term and cumulative environmental impacts resulting from hunt programs at three of the national wildlife refuges that comprise the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Three environmental assessments have been prepared and are available for public review and comment. The hunt programs that are evaluated in the assessments are:
• woodcock, white-tailed deer, turkey, gray squirrel, Eastern cottontail rabbit, and ruffed grouse at Assabet River NWR
• waterfowl and white-tailed deer hunting at Great Meadows NWR
• waterfowl, woodcock, white-tailed deer, turkey, gray squirrel, Eastern cottontail rabbit, and ruffed grouse at Oxbow NWR
These programs were proposed in April 2003 in the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessments for these refuges. The final comprehensive plans containing revised hunt programs were approved in January 2005. A hunt program was initiated at the Assabet River NWR and Great Meadows NWR in the fall of 2005, and the Oxbow NWR hunt program was expanded in the fall of 2005.
The public may comment on the draft revised environmental assessments through April 16, 2007. Draft environmental assessments for Great Meadows NWR, Assabet River NWR, and Oxbow NWR are available for review at the headquarters of the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, located at 73 Weir Hill Road in Sudbury. Office hours are 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, weekdays.
The environmental assessments are also available on-line at the following websites:
Public meetings will be held on Wednesday, April 11 at the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex headquarters from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 8 pm.
The Fund for Animals, a national animal rights organization, sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003 alleging that the agency did not fully meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it opened national wildlife refuges to hunting between 1997 and 2003. The lawsuit affects migratory bird, upland game and big game hunt programs at 74 national wildlife refuges throughout the U.S. U.S. Circuit Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in August. The court did not stop national wildlife refuge hunt programs and the Service is working to fulfill NEPA requirements for the hunts at issue by May 31, 2007. During this time we are also addressing any similar deficiencies regarding the opening of hunts for 30 refuges opened to hunting since the lawsuit was filed and for seven 2006-2007 proposed refuge openings.
The draft revised environmental assessments for the hunt programs at Assabet River, Great Meadows, and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuges includes the Service’s analyses of the overall impacts of the hunts on resident wildlife, migratory species, threatened and endangered species, refuge facilities and visitor services, cultural resources, ecosystems, and neighboring lands. The Service also considered the cumulative impacts of past, present, and future hunts on wildlife species, refuge resources, and other wildlife-dependent refuge activities. Where appropriate, we assessed the cumulative environmental impacts at the local, regional, and migratory flyway levels.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.