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Continuing Victories at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

  • Snow geese make their ascent. Mark Glover/Respect for Animals

Thanks to the combined efforts of Delaware Votes for Animals, the major D.C. law firm of Arnold and Porter, and The HSUS, we've scored a victory for wildlife at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Milton, Del.: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has closed 200 acres of the refuge to deer hunting and is taking steps to eliminate some waterfowl hunting there.

A history of problems

The HSUS has been working at Prime Hook since before 2008, evaluating the refuge's management programs. We found that refuge managers, in a consistent and long-running pattern, had carried out several projects without going through the proper review process.

By law, the FWS must evaluate any new activities proposed for a refuge to make sure they're in line with the refuge's purpose. When we found this procedure had not been followed, we met with officials from the Interior Department and requested immediate action, resulting in a victory for snow geese and rabbits in early 2010.

Leading the charge

Our investigation didn’t stop there. Together with Delaware Votes for Animals, an organization that works to protect Delaware's wildlife, we began to study the increasing evidence of illegal activities at Prime Hook.

We discovered that waterfowl blinds and deer stands had been constructed, developments completed, and hunting seasons—both for deer and migratory birds—opened or expanded without the legally required review.

Upon presenting our concerns and evidence to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Interior Department in 2011, we received an admission of ongoing improper activities at the refuge. As a result, the FWS is reducing waterfowl hunting and has closed 200 acres of the refuge to deer hunting

The FWS also commited to completing the necessary reviews for the remaining questionable activities through the preparation of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) during 2012. Delaware Votes for Animals, The HSUS, and our attorneys will monitor that process closely.  


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