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Trump administration plans major expansion of hunting, fishing in wildlife refuges

OAK HARBOR, Ohio (AP) — The Trump administration on Wednesday announced what it called a major expansion of hunting and fishing in the nation’s wildlife refuges.

The plan affects 1.4 million acres on federal public lands, including 74 national wildlife refuges, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge along Lake Erie in northern Ohio.

The proposal would also allow hunting and fishing for the first time at 15 national fish hatcheries.

“It’s a dramatic statement about our commitment to access,” Bernhardt said, adding: “The goal is to get more people out.”

Lack of access to hunting and fishing sites is one of the most common reasons people don’t begin those activities, Bernhardt said.

Among refuges where the expansion is proposed are Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming, where deer and elk hunting would be allowed for the first time.

Bernhardt said the expansion is the largest proposed by the administration to date.

The plan is to finalize the proposal by September after public comment. The proposal also calls for revising hunting and fishing rules at refuges in all states to more closely match state regulations.

Bernhardt said that latter proposal followed a comprehensive review of federal and state rules, something Bernhardt said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has never done.

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