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Hunting Proposed In Otay-Sweetwater National Wildlife Refuge


Andy Yuen, project leader, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Renee Owens, member of the National Sierra Club Wildlife and Endangered Species and the National Sierra Club Marine Action committees


Submit A Comment

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting comments on the proposed conservation plan until Aug. 18.

Mail comments to: Victoria Touchstone, Refuge Planner San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 2358, Chula Vista, CA 91912-2358.

Fax comments to: (619) 476-9149.

Email comments to: (include “San Diego NWR CCP” in the subject line).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing that hunting be allowed in an area of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, and the idea has sparked a wave of criticism.

The federal agency oversees areas designated as National Wildlife Refuges in San Diego County. The biggest one is in the Otay-Sweetwater area.

The 11,500-acre San Diego National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public for hiking, mountain biking, environmental education, wildlife observation and photography.

A draft conservation plan would allow hunting there. That's caused concern among environmental groups, and they've started an online petition asking the government to scrap the hunting part of the plan. So far, they have collected more than 20,000 signatures.

The conservation proposal includes four options for managing the National Wildlife Refuge. They are:

Alternative A: It would mean no change to the current management of the refuge. Current management includes monitoring and taking action to protect sensitive and endangered species of wildlife, controlling invasive weeds and brush management to prevent wildfires.

Alternative B:It calls for some restrictions of public access to the refuge in order to protect wildlife and native habitats. This alternative would close and restore some trails damaged by erosion. Dogs would not be allowed.

Alternative C: It would allow hunting in designated areas of the National Wildlife Refuge, including portions of McGinty Mountain, Las Montañas, Otay Mesa and Lakes management areas. The wildlife management would be the same as under Alternative B, but leashed dogs would be allowed on trails.

Alternative D: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prefers this option. It would allow hunting in a designated area of the Otay Mesa and Lakes management area. This option includes the same habitat management as in Alternative B and includes a plan for eradicating feral pigs. Under this option, dogs would be allowed on some trails.

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