PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released their final hunting and fishing plans on Wednesday for the National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in Rhode Island after an 85-day public comment period.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said they received 1,641 comments and two petitions. Many of the comments being opposed to hunting and fishing in general on NWR lands.
Their response in the press release said, “your opportunity to enjoy seeing deer, hear the gobble of a wild turkey, capture that great photograph, and experience all of the other wildlife species found on national wildlife refuges will continue. The hunting program isn’t going to harm the overall population of any wildlife species on the refuges – it would not be allowed if it did.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service said that many of the refuges have abundant deer populations that exert high pressures on native vegetation, so controlling deer populations help the overall health of the refuge.
At the Block Island NWR, existing hunting activities will continue and expand. There will be a ban on weekend hunting though, which the town asked for.
Hunting at Ninigret NWR will also continue and expand, including mentored deer hunts.
The proposal to create a parking lot off Crest Avenue for the John H. Chafee NWR has been dropped based on information from the public comments. Hunting in the Mumford Unit will no longer be allowed, due to concerns of it being located near an elementary school and the William O’Neil bike path.
At Trustom Pond NWR no hunting will be allowed on the pond. Waterfowl hunting will be allowed where it has been, on field one, east of the main refuge land base. Archery hunting for deer is allowed, but archers must carry a state hunting license and show proficiency in the use of the equipment. No hunting will be allowed within 200 feet of a dwelling or 100 feet of a public trail.
There will be no general hunting season at Sachuest Point NWR and no firearms will be allowed during the mentored hunt. The hunting area has been reduced to exclude areas near town beaches, the campground and the salt marsh. Saltwater fishing is permitted, except for on Sachuest Beach between April 1 and Sept. 15 to protect nesting birds in the area.
In Narragansett, deer hunting will be limited to archery only. Waterfowl hunting and fishing on the Narrow River will be allowed.