US expands hunting and fishing at national wildlife refuges

FILE - This June 24, 2004, file photo, shows Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge near American Falls, Idaho. The Trump administration announced on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, it is expanding hunting and fishing at nearly 80 national wildlife refuges, including Minidoka, in what it says is a bonus for hunters and anglers but what critics contend is deferring management to states with potential to harm wildlife populations. (Bill Schaefer/The Idaho State Journal via AP, File)

BOISE, Idaho — The Trump administration is expanding hunting and fishing in 77 national wildlife refuges in what it says is a bonus for hunters and anglers but what critics contend is deferring management to states with potential harm to wildlife.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a final rule posted Tuesday in the Federal Register that 2,200 square miles (5,700 square kilometers) will open in 37 states.

Fish and Wildlife says some 5,000 regulations have been eliminated or simplified at the national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries to match state regulations.

It's the latest effort by the Trump administration to open public lands to recreation and industry, including oil and gas drilling, that critics say is coming at the expense of the environment and wildlife.

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