Because of the lapse in appropriations that has caused the federal government shutdown, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region today announced a second batch of event and activity cancellations at national wildlife refuges across the Southeast Region because it can no longer meet logistical requirements to support them.
Refuges, facilities and operations across the Region remained shuttered as a result of lapse in funding for the fiscal year that began October 1. The lack of funding affects roughly 200 field stations in the Southeast including all national wildlife refuges, national fish hatcheries, fish and wildlife coordination offices, and ecological services and migratory bird field offices. The Southeast Region is made up of 10 states – Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
Wildlife-related recreational activities including hunting, fishing and environmental education along with other meetings scheduled to occur over the next week are being evaluated as the shutdown continues and cancellations are being determined considering logistical requirements to support them. The Region is considering cancellation only for those activities and events that are set to occur within seven days or have particular logistical requirements. Decisions about rescheduling any of these activities will not be made until employees return to work.
The following upcoming events and activities have been cancelled because the Service cannot logistically support them as of today because of the government shutdown:
St. Catherine Creek NWR: ‘Refuge Day’ and a host of outdoor activities associated with it and planned for October 12th are cancelled.
Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee NWR: National Wildlife Refuge Week festival scheduled for October 12th is cancelled. The festival was expected to draw more than 500 citizens and was being sponsored by the Mississippi Department Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the Choctaw Tribe of Indians, Friends of Noxubee and Mississippi State University.
Wheeler NWR: The Big Sit, a coordinated international birding event co-sponsored by Bird Watcher’s Digest and part of the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge Week, that had been planned for October 12th at the Visitor Center and October 13th at White Springs Dike on the refuge is now cancelled.
J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling NWR: The Big Sit, a coordinated international birding event co-sponsored by Bird Watcher’s Digest and part of the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge Week, had been planned for October 12th, and is cancelled.
Okefenokee NWR: The annual Okefenokee Pioneer Days Festival in Folkston, Georgia, set for October 12th is cancelled as well as a ribbon cutting for the newly rebuilt Chesser Island Boardwalk.
Pinkney Island NWR: A series of programs scheduled for Saturday, October 12th, to kick off this year’s National Wildlife Refuge Week, are cancelled.
Big Branch Marsh NWR: The ‘Wild Things’ Festival, which had been planned for Saturday, October 12th, and draws more than four dozen exhibitors and more than 5,000 visitors, is cancelled.
Carolina Sandhills NWR: A ‘Wildflower Walk’ in conjunction with National Wildlife Refuge Week that was to be held on October 12th and led by Patrick McMillan, the Emmy-award winning host of ETV’s outdoors program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan, is cancelled.
Hunting programs on refuges across the Southeast Region from Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin and Waccamaw NWRs on South Carolina’s coast to Sabine NWR in Western Louisiana are cancelled within the same time frames noted above and won’t resume until the lapse in funding for agency operations is restored.
· A two-day deer hunt for disabled sportsmen at Pee Dee NWR in North Carolina scheduled for October 11 and 12 sponsored by the Friends of Pee Dee and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is cancelled.
· A youth hunt for white-tailed deer at Carolina Sandhills NWR on October 12th also is being cancelled.
· A two-day permit deer hunt at Mattamuskeet NWR in North Carolina to be held later this week impacting more than 80 hunters also has been cancelled.
· A permit archery deer hunt at Lake Woodruff NWR in Florida running through October 13th also has been cancelled impacting 100 permit holders.
· The first two days of white-tailed deer and feral hog hunting at Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin NWR on October 10-11 are cancelled.
· Lower Suwannee NWR archery and muzzle-loader hunts through October 13 are cancelled.
Additional cancellations for activities set to occur beyond October 13th will be considered in the days ahead if necessary based on timing and logistical requirements.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.