U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Offers Hunting Opportunities At Ninigret, Block Island and Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuges
This fall and winter we are pleased to offer white-tailed deer hunting opportunities in Rhode Island due to the continued implementation of the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex’s (Complex) hunt program. One unit on the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and four units on the Block Island NWR will be open for hunting by special permit only.
The Ninigret Pond Unit of the Ninigret NWR will be open for a special youth only hunt December 6-21, 2014 as well as an Archery Season December 28, 2014 – January 31, 2015. All youth hunters (12-17 yrs old) selected are required to attend a hunt orientation prior to participating in the refuge hunt. The orientation will be held November 22, 2014 at the Kettle Pond Visitor Center in Charlestown, Rhode Island. The Ninigret NWR Youth Deer Hunt is a mentorship event, utilizing the experiences of adults to assist and introduce youth to the outdoors and the use of hunting as a big game management tool. The adult mentor must accompany all youth hunters during the hunt and at the hunt orientation.
Block Island NWR units will open for shotgun, archery and muzzleloader hunting in January and February, excluding weekends. There will also be a unit accessible for people with disabilities.
Refuge-specific hunting regulations will be implemented to facilitate a safe and quality hunt that incorporates the safety and concerns of the general public as well as refuge neighbors.
The refuge’s hunting program follows strategies identified to help meet multiple objectives:
- Deer hunting will provide the public an opportunity to safely enjoy an American pastime, which is a priority recreational use of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and provide a means to control deer populations in cooperation with State objectives and regulations.
- Reducing deer densities may reduce the abundance of deer ticks that harbor diseases, such as Lyme disease, which can affect public health.
- Reducing the adverse effects deer can have on native plant communities. This is particularly important because of the very high use migrating songbirds make of the national wildlife refuges during the fall migration.
Deer hunting opportunities at Ninigret and Block Island Refuges are a result of the refuges’ approved deer management plan, which included a public comment period. Goose and dove hunting is also allowed on a portion of the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in South Kingstown.
As a reminder to hunters, the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge is currently closed to all hunting. The Service is completing an analysis consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act and developing an Environmental Assessment (EA). The purpose of the EA is to evaluate how to best manage white-tailed deer and to evaluate implementing a waterfowl hunting program on John H. Chafee Refuge. Through this process, there will be opportunities for public input and engagement.
Some people are surprised to learn that hunting is allowed on a national wildlife refuge, but these lands have been established not only to preserve wild places, but also to promote wildlife-dependent recreation when compatible with the purposes for which the refuges were established. As one of the oldest, most traditional recreational uses of renewable natural resources, hunting has been a popular activity within the National Wildlife Refuge System since its creation over a century ago. Refuges often depend on hunting as a beneficial tool to assist in the management of wildlife populations on our public lands. Today, more than 300 of our nation’s refuges provide hunting opportunities to their visitors.
The Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a diverse network of lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that includes 556 national wildlife refuges and more than 150 million acres of public lands and waters set aside for the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants. The Refuge System works to foster public awareness and appreciation of the natural world through wildlife-dependent recreation, including wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation, fishing and hunting.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation. Visit www.fws.gov to learn more.
Hunting permit information for the Ninigret and Block Island National Wildlife Refuges is available at http://www.rhodeislandpermits.com. For further information and questions on the Rhode Island NWR Complex hunting program, please contact Hunting Coordinator Neil Anthes at 401-364-9124, extension 43, or visit the website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ninigret/.