Just What Is a National Wildlife ‘Refuge’?

By Peter Muller

It’s not easy to find a national wildlife refuge that does not allow hunting. It is shocking that the word “refuge” can be used so deceptively. Yet in the netherworld of wildlife management, Newspeak is the official language. “Protection” means those periods when wildlife can not be killed to allow them to rebuild their numbers in the spring and summer for hunters to continue to kill in the fall and winter without depleting the supply of wild animal “targets.” Then there is the term “refuge” that means the place where they are “protected” during breeding seasons, and then shot by hunters after they have matured.

If you find this hard to believe, visit:

Ordinary definitions tell us that a refuge is something that acts as a shelter from the weather or danger.

However, The USFWS National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) System offers no shelter or protection to wildlife in the way most people would expect. It simply identifies where a group of animals can be found so they can be hunted. It is, perversely, the opposite of the meaning in the English language.

The Mission Statement of the NWR System:

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

In other words, our goal is to perpetuate and restore the species of animals for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans including hunters.

They have installed a computer system called “Find the Perfect Hunt” where you key in the type of animal you want to hunt and you will be told what states offer these animals that can be hunted.

These “Refuges” are categorized by name, location, species and kept, throughout the country. Anybody can find a location where any animal can be found to be hunted. To hunt in most “refuges” a special “refuge-permit” is required, as well a hunting license from the users’ home states.

All states, with very few exceptions, have refuges where hunting takes place. Those can all be found in seconds using the “Find the Perfect Hunt” program.

The National Wildlife Refuge Systemlists more than 560 National Wildlife Refuges and thousands of smaller wetlands and other special management areas. Under theFisheries programthey also operate 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 65 fishery resource offices and 86 ecological services field stations.

The clear majority of fish and wildlife habitat restoration is on non-Federal lands under thePartners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

A main tool for a hunter who wants to find a ‘refuge’ for a specific kind of animal is called “The Perfect Hunt.” It is a nice search program into which the hunter specifies the species of animals he is interested in hunting as well the location where he would like to hunt by state of zip code. The program the gives him the list of the ‘refuges’ that satisfy his criteria.

He can specify the species by:

DDeer; Big Game, Exotics, Waterfowl, Upland Birds, Turkey, Migratory Birds, and Small Game

A hunter can then specify the location: either a state or a zip code, and can further specify special conditions, such as ‘Youth Hunts.”

When the “Search key” is pressed, all refuges that meet the specifications are reported back.For example, a hunter living in New Jersey may suddenly be struck by the desire to hunt Big Game; he has no idea where to find it and how accessible it is, so he checks off Big Game; leaves ‘Any State’ and clicks on “search.” He is returned with the first five choices of 128 sites that meet his search criteria. Those would be the following: 128 results found for Big Game

Refuge Species

Location Special Hunts

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Deer, Waterfowl, Migratory Birds, Big Game, Small Game, Upland Birds


Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge Deer, Waterfowl, Migratory Birds, Big Game, Small Game, Upland Birds


Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl, Migratory Birds, Big Game, Small Game, Upland Birds

CO Youth

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Deer, Waterfowl, Migratory Birds, Big Game, Small Game, Upland Birds


Arrowwood Wetland Management District Deer, Waterfowl, Migratory Birds, Big Game, Turkey, Small Game, Upland Birds


He can explore one of the ones listed or see the next group of the 128 refuges found by his search criteria.

This system is clearly not intended for providing refuge to animals that are commonly hunted, but on the contrary it specifies options to find animals to hunt close to or far from the hunter’s state of postal zip code.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561