It has been reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering expanding hunting of bears, bobcats, mountain lions and many other animals on National Wildlife Refuges across the U.S.
Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys Refuges checked with Refuge Manager Andrew Gude to learn if such a change is likely to affect hunting on our Refuges. We learned that it is not.
Hunting is a refuge-by-refuge decision. It is not easy for a refuge to expand hunting because it is dependent on local factors, and because significant policy bars must be met . . . usually at least a year in advance of any change.
Over the past year, all refuges, including Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys, completed SHOT (Service Hunt/Fish Opportunity Tool) reports, in accordance with a directive from former Secretary of Interior Zinke. One goal was to increase alignment with state hunting regulations to make things easier for hunters and anglers. Our regulations and the State of Florida’s already are in alignment. Another goal was to see what hunting and fishing opportunities could be expanded.
It turns out that Lower Suwannee NWR offers more hunting opportunities than any refuge in the Lower 48, with ten different public hunts and a few special hunts. Given this information and all the other data gathered for the SHOT report, our refuge managers do not envision allowing any more species to be taken.
Quoting our Refuge manager Andrew, "At the Lower Suwannee NWR, there will be no hunting bobcats or alligators, not even frog gigging. Our Refuge hunting will continue to be just deer, hogs, turkey, ducks, and small game . . . and hogs, hogs, and more hogs. Shoot all the damn hogs you would like, during the season, of course."