Updated Hunt Plan for Patuxent Research Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a final hunting plan for Patuxent Research Refuge (NWR) in Maryland 

A draft plan was issued earlier this spring, and during the 97-day public comment period, 4 comment letters were received from the public. We are grateful to the people who provided meaningful comments on the draft, which helped in developing the final plan.   

Some comments reflected an opposition to hunting and fishing in general and in particular on refuge lands. We understand and respect this viewpoint.  The legislation which guides how national wildlife refuges across the country are managed not only requires us to consider allowing wildlife observation, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, and interpretation, but further directs us to promote these activities when compatible with refuge purposes. Not one of these recreational uses have a priority over another – they are simply different ways people choose to enjoy the refuges and to engage themselves, their families, and their friends in the outdoors. 

A summary of all substantive comments, and our responses, can be found in Appendix E (Finding of No Significant Impact). No significant changes have been made between the draft and final versions of the Hunting. As part of next year’s proposed rule, Patuxent Research Refuge  will propose a non-lead requirement, which will take effect on September 1, 2026. The EA analyzes the impacts of lead ammunition and tackle; based on the breadth of comments received on the plan to require non-lead ammunition and tackle by 2026, the Service intends to complete additional analysis and provide another opportunity to comment during next year’s annual rulemaking.

We may begin to implement the Hunting Plan for Patuxent Research Refuge  upon publication of the final 2022-2023 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations in the Federal Register. The final plan can be viewed here

Created to conserve and protect wildlife and wildlands through research, Patuxent Research Refuge offers 13,000 acres of tranquil forest, meadow and wetlands amid a densely populated urban area. Countless birds, mammals, pollinators, amphibians, and more call it home. Immerse yourself in this natural world; visit and connect with your nature.

Visit Us

Whether walking trails or fishing pond, the sounds and sights of the eastern woods give serenity to the soul.

Our Two Entrances:

South Tract, also known as the Dan Ashe Division, hosts 5 miles of walking trails and two scenic lakes. It is also the site of the National Wildlife Visitor Center. The grounds are open sunrise to sunset every day.   The Visitor Center is closed on federal holidays. Fishing and hunting is available seasonally. 

North Tract offers 25 miles of trail for walking, biking, and horseback riding. With less visitation than South Tract, North Tract offers a quiet atmosphere for those seeking solitude. The grounds are open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The refuge closes for federal holidays and occasionally for scheduled hunts.  

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Patuxent Research Refuge was established in 1936 by executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and is the only wildlife refuge established to support wildlife research. Today the U.S. Geological Survey’s Eastern Ecological Science Center carries on the refuge’s rich tradition in scientific investigation.

      Biologically, the refuge is of regional importance in that it is home to many deep-forest song birds such as the Scarlet Tanager. Patuxent’s large areas of unbroken tree cover, rare in central Maryland, allows these birds to hide from predators.

      Currently, the refuge welcomes over 200,000 visitors per year and seeks to nourish their spirits as well as the wildlife of the area.

      What We Do

      Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managed lands and waters, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      is established, to the recreational activities offered, to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species. 

      Our Organization

      Refuge Our Organization (Programs)

      The Migratory Bird Program works with partners to protect, restore and conserve bird populations and their habitats for the benefit of future generations by: ensuring long-term ecological sustainability of all migratory bird populations, increasing socioeconomic benefits derived from birds,...
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.

      Our Species

      A large raptor, the bald eagle has a wingspread of about seven feet. Adults have a dark brown body and wings, white head and tail, and a yellow beak. Juveniles are mostly brown with white mottling on the body, tail, and undersides of wings. Adult plumage usually is obtained by the sixth year. In...

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      Our Library

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      Get Involved

      As an organization dedicated to conserving wildlife and habitats, there are many ways for you to be involved. This could be as a volunteer, member of Friends of Patuxent, an intern, or working with the Youth Conservation Corp.

      Projects and Research

      Our projects and biological research provides invaluable aid and scientific knowledge about the numerous resident and migrant wildlife species found on the refuge.