Expanding Hunting Opportunities
At Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuges
There are five National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in Rhode Island: Block Island NWR, John H. Chafee NWR, Ninigret NWR, Sachuest Point NWR, and Trustom Pond NWR. National wildlife refuges exist primarily to safeguard wildlife populations through habitat preservation. The word “refuge” includes the idea of providing a haven of safety for wildlife, and as such, hunting might seem an inconsistent use of the National Wildlife Refuge System. However, habitat that normally supports healthy wildlife populations produces harvestable surpluses that are a renewable resource.
Hunting is a healthy, traditional recreational use of renewable natural resources deeply rooted in America’s heritage, and it can be an important wildlife management tool. The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, other laws, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s policy permit hunting (along with fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation) on a national wildlife refuge when it is compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was established and acquired.
As practiced on refuges, hunting does not pose a threat to the wildlife populations — and in some instances it is necessary for sound wildlife management. For example, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support. If some deer are not harvested, they destroy habitat for themselves and other animals and die from starvation or disease. The harvesting of wildlife on refuges is carefully regulated to ensure equilibrium between population levels and wildlife habitat. The decision to permit hunting on national wildlife refuges is made on a case-by-case basis. Considerations include biological soundness, economic feasibility, effects on other refuge programs and public demand.
Three of the five National Wildlife Refuges are open for hunting on designated units with some season and weapon restrictions. Hunters must possess and carry a signed refuge hunting brochure valid for the current season.
- Block Island NWR: white-tailed deer and waterfowl hunting opportunities are available. All Block Island hunting restrictions, State DEM, federal, and refuge regulations apply.
- John H. Chafee NWR: white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl hunting opportunities are available. All State DEM, federal, and refuge regulations apply.
- Ninigret NWR: white-tailed deer and wild turkey hunting opportunities are available. All State DEM, federal, and refuge regulations apply.
For information, regulations, locations and dates, please visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ninigret/visit/hunting.html or contact the USFWS at 401-364-9124.