Early season hunting closure at Umatilla National Wildlife Refug - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Early season hunting closure at Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge

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PATERSON, WA – Due to the extreme weather, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is closing part of the Whitcomb Unit to hunting early this season in order to protect waterfowl. The FWS will begin knocking corn and other crops down in refuge fields to provide food for ducks and geese. The closure takes effect on January 5th, 2017.

Without a hunting closure this would create what’s known as a ‘baiting’ situation. In Washington, it is illegal to hunt waterfowl in areas where food has purposely been provided.

“The unseasonable cold we’ve been experiencing is stressing wildlife,” said Refuge Manager Lamont Glass. “Surveys of waterfowl in the area show that two-thirds are in poor condition. When it’s this cold, and with snow covering other food sources, waterfowl need additional resources in order to survive.”
Glass added, “any disruption in hunting is a difficult decision for us, but there is a crucial need to provide additional food sources for wildlife.”

This closure will impact only around 2,000 acres of the Whitcomb Unit in Washington. The rest of the unit and all other hunting areas in the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge will remain open through the end of the season.

For more information, the public can contact the FWS at (509) 546-8333 or mcriver@fws.gov. For a map of the closed area, please visit www.fws.gov/refuge/umatilla/.