Extended hunt proposed at Blackwater, Eastern Neck NWR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a number of expanded hunting opportunities at two National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) on Maryland’s east coast – Blackwater in Dorchester County and Eastern Neck on the lower Chester River. .

The Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, as the two refuges are known, is seeking public input on its draft hunting and fishing plan.

Citing the importance of welcoming “people of all backgrounds and abilities to participate in recreational hunting,” Chesapeake Marshlands plans to align with state bag limits for certain deer hunts. He proposes that hunters can take incidental coyotes on deer hunting and use straight-wall shotguns.

Both NWRs would add a primitive hunt in February after the state season. Blackwater is proposing to add an early teal and date season for youth, veterans and the military to hunt waterfowl. An additional 723 acres of land would be open to hunting in Blackwater. Anglers would be allowed to fish from the causeway bank of Key Wallace Drive and ponds would be opened for youth fishing activities.

The plan prioritizes phasing out lead ammunition and fishing tackle, phasing in lead-free ammunition and tackle over a five-year period with a complete phase-out of lead by 2027.

If you would like to comment on these proposals, please note “Chesapeake Marshlands NWRC” in the subject line of an email and send it to [email protected] They can also be mailed to the shelter, provided at the open house, received by phone at 410-221-2034 or emailed to [email protected].

In addition to email feedback, there will be an open house on June 9and 4-7pm at the Environmental Education Building at the start of Wildlife Drive in Blackwater NWR. You can discuss proposed changes with NWRs and provide feedback on draft plans.

The comment period will remain open for at least 60 days.

-Meg Walburn Viviano