Tag Archives: Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration

A non-hunter’s guide to hunting

You may be wondering how regulated hunting contributes to conservation, the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and if it’s a sustainable practice.

Let’s start with the mission of the Service: working with others to conserve, enhance, and protect fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. A key component enabling the Service to carry out their mission is conserving and enhancing habitat, managed under the National Wildlife Refuge System. The purchase of federal duck stamps, required by all waterfowl hunters, provides the funding needed to conserve new lands, enhancing opportunities for outdoor activities where people can connect with nature.

Outdoor opportunities, including regulated hunting, are among the benefits people enjoy through the work of federal and state partnerships. For many, hunting is a family activity that transcends generations. Many feel hunting not only teaches the value and importance of wildlife conservation, but teaches imperative life lessons such as patience, respect, solitude, and self-awareness. Scott Kahan, Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, for example, feels hunting is an important way to reconnect with nature and spend quality time with his two sons. He writes, “I will cherish the opportunity to get out in the woods to hunt with my sons and reconnect with those things that are truly important to me.”

Scott Kahan and his son at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota.

So how do hunters contribute to the Service’s mission to conserve, enhance, and protect wildlife? First, biologists study and monitor the populations of wildlife species that are hunted to ensure populations are sustainable and healthy, while law enforcement officers ensure that regulations are being followed by hunters. In some areas, populations of game species can become overabundant, limiting the amount of suitable habitat available for other wildlife. In these situations, hunting contributes to the conservation, enhancement, and longevity of habitat for all wildlife through the regulated take of an overabundant species.

A meat processor participating in the Hunters Sharing the Harvest Program.

In addition to conservation benefits, hunting is a sustainable way to provide food for your family. Alternatively, if you enjoy hunting and have game meat to share, you can supply nutritious food for over 200 people by donating a single deer! Programs such as “Hunters Helping the Hungry” in New Jersey and “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” in Pennsylvania, allow hunters to donate their harvest to help feed those in need. Even if you are unsuccessful in harvesting a deer, you still had the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with family and friends, and participate in a wildlife-dependent activity!

Pennsylvania’s pheasant propagation program provides enhanced hunting opportunities for junior hunters. Photo by Hal Korber.

Are you interested in learning how to hunt? To obtain a hunting license, a prospective hunter must participate in and pass a hunter’s education course. These courses are funded by the Service through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program and are carried out by state agencies, and are designed to teach students to be safe, responsible, and conservation-minded hunters. Many programs are specifically designed for youth hunters, such as the Pennsylvania Junior Pheasant Hunt Program, where young hunters are guided by an experienced mentor throughout the hunt.

For experienced hunters who wish to expand their hunting knowledge, many states offer advanced hunting courses. For example, Vermont offers advanced hunting courses focusing on hunting Vermont black bears, white-tailed deer tracking and processing, and small game hunting with dogs.

Learn more about hunting on public lands here.

Click here to learn more about hunting on national wildlife refuges.

For links to state fish and wildlife agencies, click here.

Big boats, big dreams, and BIG opportunities

Today you are hearing from Bill Perry who manages boating related grants for the northeast region. He loves to spend his free time on the water (usually in paddle powered watercraft). 

Ever dream about spending 6 months on a boat traveling the world? Or possibly staying closer to home and traveling down the Intracoastal waterway for a few months in the fall? Or maybe a smaller dream of renting a boat that you could stay on for a week of vacation with a couple of stops to check out some seaside towns?

You probably don’t spend much of that dream time pondering the logistics of such a trip. Things like whether there will be a place to tie up for the night, where you will refuel, and whether there is access to a town with a decent restaurant or pharmacy along your route.

Along the coast, many marinas concentrate on providing seasonal boat slips. The owners can rent a spot to a boater for a fee for the season and have a guaranteed income stream from that dock or mooring. Renting to transients (those boats that happen to want to stop in for a night or a couple of weeks) is a less certain prospect. The possibility that there won’t be anything available along your majestic getaway or that you would not be able to secure a spot for the night when you really want to enjoy some time on land can make your trip less of a dream.

That’s where the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program tries to help. The BIG program provides funding to state agencies for tie-up facilities and associated amenities that are dedicated for use by transient boats greater than 26’ in length. State agencies, in turn, often partner or sub-grant funds to local communities, counties, or private marinas to build the docks and services that boaters need as they travel between locations.

These stops are important opportunities not only for the boaters, but for local communities as well. More communities are looking for options to open their waterfronts and convert them from the working waterfronts of days gone by to attractions with scenic views, restaurants, and open space. Large transient boats bring revenue to these areas in the form of tourist dollars for local businesses, fuel purchases, and taxes.

In the northeast, we have some great opportunities for transient boaters to travel along the coast. For example, Newburyport, MA recently opened its transient boater facility along the Merrimack River that includes mooring opportunities for 6 transient boats, a boater’s lounge, and restroom and shower facilities. In addition, Annapolis, MD renovated transient tie-up facilities that provide opportunities to visit its downtown area. The State of Connecticut includes seven BIG funded locations along the Connecticut River that provide tie-up options. Yorktown, VA provides easy access to local restaurants along with restrooms for boaters at its BIG funded dock. The list goes on.

So, as you dream about that carefree time boating the coast, the BIG program is working to ensure that there will be places to keep you comfortable, well-stocked, and safe, when those dreams become reality.

Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration brings fishing to DC youth

Today's blog was written by Richard Zane from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. Richard came from a small farming town in VA who graduated with a B.S. from Virginia Tech and a M.S. from James Madison University. He has worked as a high school teacher, and a wildlife biologist conducting disease research, recovering endangered species, managing a National Wildlife Refuge and now managing Aquatic and Hunter Education grants for the USFWS.

Today’s blog was written by Richard Zane from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. Richard came from a small farming town in VA who graduated with a B.S. from Virginia Tech and a M.S. from James Madison University. He has worked as a high school teacher, and a wildlife biologist conducting disease research, recovering endangered species, managing a National Wildlife Refuge and now managing Aquatic and Hunter Education grants for the USFWS.

On May 14th the Washington D.C.’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) held their annual Family & Youth Casting Call at Fletcher’s Cove on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.  This kids fishing day had 295 kids participate along with 277 adults.  It was a gorgeous day, a break from all the rain that has hit the city over the past few weeks.  At the event there were 15 educational stations from fish printing to fly casting along with a great fishing opportunity along the canal with free bait and fishing rod use.

The DOEE Aquatic Education program is funded through the Sport Fish Restoration Act, which collects excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels.  Currently DOEE is receiving over a half of a million dollars a year to support their aquatic education program.  Their programs are linked with local schools to meet the education standards for DC along with special events like this for the community.