New hunting opportunities will come to a pair of Northwest national wildlife refuges starting in the 2023 season.
Hunters will be able to pursue turkeys during the fall at Turnbull NWR near Spokane and Canada geese in September at Baskett Slough NWR west of Salem, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced this morning.
“We are committed to ensuring Americans of all backgrounds have access to hunting and fishing and other recreational activities on the lands and waters of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said USFWS Director Martha Williams in a press release. “These regulations increase public access opportunities, better align the service with state regulations and help to promote healthy wildlife habitats while boosting local recreation economies.”
Under the changes, turkey hunters will be able to hunt an 1,883-acre chunk on Turnbull’s northwest side four days of the week during WDFW’s September 1-December 31 fall season.
“We will require the use of non-toxic shot for turkey hunting,” refuge managers said. “Turkey hunting will be by advance reservation only. WDFW will manage reservations under their Hunting By Reservation Only program. Up to two hunting parties of up to four hunters per party will be allowed to hunt per two-day hunt period.”
Hunt days appear to be Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, according to the management plan.
USFWS estimated that 280 hunters are expected to take 70 turkeys. Harvest in this part of Washington is open for a total of four birds a season, two beardless and two either sex.
Turnbull has hosted a special permit elk hunt for over a decade to reduce herd numbers and impacts to native vegetation like aspens.
At Baskett Slough, 1,059 acres will open during the nine-day September Canada season starting next fall.
While the Willamette Valley on which the refuge sits is rich with geese through the year, it is very light on public land. Similar to Turnbull, the Baskett Slough goose hunt will provide a good recreational hunting opportunity while helping ODFW manage Canada geese, a population that is above management objective and can cause agricultural damage.
Harvest is estimated at 1,125 geese.
USFWS says these goose and turkey hunts are two of 109 distinct hunting and fishing opportunities now being allowed at 18 NWRs across America and occurring on 38,000 acres.
The three most recent presidential administrations, Democrat and Republican alike, have made a point of increasing fishing and hunting access on federal lands.
In today’s press release, USFWS pointed out that hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation yielded an estimated $156 billion in economic activity in 2016, and 101 million Americans participate in “wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.”