On Tuesday, September 10, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced a final rule to open or expand hunting opportunities on a number of National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) as of the 2019-2020 hunting season.
During the public comment period as part of this regulatory review, the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) submitted Federal Register comments on August 12 asking for Erie NWR to be opened up for hunting American woodcock. Providing this opportunity for woodcock hunting was among the changes made by the Service, though only up to 40% of the area within NWRs may be made available for migratory bird hunting.
The rule will become effective August 29, 2019, and Erie NWR will allow woodcock hunting in Areas A and E of the Refuge, in accordance with Pennsylvania State laws between September 1 through the end of February. A map, additional hunting regulation details, and contact information for the Refuge is available here.
Woodcock hunting was previously open on Erie NWR, but was closed for a number of years to allow the Service to conduct research on the Refuge. RGS/AWS, in partnership with the Wildlife Management Institute, has been engaged in efforts on the Refuge to support alder, aspen and hardwood management activities to benefit woodcock habitat and enhance this expanded hunting opportunity. RGS/AWS management efforts were funded through the Pennsylvania State Drummer Fund, with additional generous financial support by the Alleghany Northwoods RGS Chapter.
RGS/AWS is proud of our role in uniting conservationists to improve wildlife habitat, forest health, and hunting opportunities. We thank our valued members and partners for their assistance in these efforts, and the Service for implementing this rule change!