Hunting birds, deer and other creatures in a wildlife refuge may seem like a shame for some people who want these areas off-limits to guns. But, some national wildlife refuges already allow hunting. Further, the office of the U.S. Secretary of Interior is on a course to expand those opportunities.
Baskett Slough, west of Salem and Siletz Bay, south of Lincoln City, are among ten wildlife refuges proposed to offer more chances to hunt and fish.
The plan is already drawing ire in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public comment section.
One citizen wrote, “The Basket Slough NWR should not be open to hunting. It is a refuge for wild life and for people who want a peaceful place to immerse in nature. Guns have no place in a wildlife refuge.”
The Secretary of Interior announced in an Aug. 9 press release his proposal to open up hunting and fishing in ten wildlife refuges in seven states. If the plan is finalized people could hunt on 373 refuges and fish at 312 nationwide.
But, the issue is not clear-cut for Baskett Slough.
A plan to allow waterfowl hunting in select Baskett Slough areas is not new and has already been approved, said Damien Miller, project leader of the Willamette National Wildlife Refuge Complex which Baskett Slough belongs.
Miller said he and his staff went through the public comment and regulatory process in 2012 to allow a small number of youth to hunt one weekend per year.
The plan was never implemented because of staffing shortages, Miller said.
Earlier this year, some minor modifications were made to the plan. That is why Baskett Slough waterfowl hunting is mentioned in the Aug. 9 press release.
Miller said it’s hoped to hold a youth waterfowl hunt in the fall of 2018 in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Fish and Game’s youth hunt.
Baskett Slough is located where Highway 99W and 22 meet. One of its main purposes is to provide a wintering spot for the protected dusky Canadian geese.
In the press release U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke stated he pursued more opportunities to hunt and fish, mainly due to his own experiences.
He said that he was lucky to hunt and fish when he was a boy, and also took pleasure in sharing those activities with his children. He wants all members of the public to have the same benefits.
Comments and views on Zink’s proposal, including the plans for Baskett Slough, are welcome. Comments must be received by Sept. 9.
To learn more about the regulations, and to make comments go to www.regulations.gov, and then type in “FWS-HQ-NWRS-2017-0005” in the “Search” field. Keep clicking on “Comment” to get to the comment section.