A draft Hunting Plan and Environmental Assessment for Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Sumner is now available for public review. The comment period will extend until Nov. 5.

The Environmental Assessment provides an environmental analysis and cumulative impacts of three alternatives for the hunting program at Swan Lake NWR. These include: 1. No Action Alternative, 2. Limited Expansion of Hunting Opportunities, and 3. Significant Expansion of Hunting Opportunities. The preferred alternative of the Environmental Assessment will be Alternative 2 which is further developed in the Hunting Plan.

The Hunting Plan will open some areas of the refuge to waterfowl hunting, add a managed archery deer hunt, open a unit of the refuge to squirrel hunting, and a small 40-acre parcel of the refuge that is adjacent to the Yellow Creek Conservation Area will be open to statewide regulations with the exception of deer firearms hunting. Swan Lake also manages outlying units, which are located in Chariton, Bates, Henry, Cedar, and St. Claire counties. These outlying units will be open to hunting in accordance with state regulations.

Copies of the Environmental Assessment and Hunting Plan with Compatibility Determination can be reviewed on the refuge website at: www.fws.gov/refuge/swan_ lake/what_ we_do/conservation/hunting_plan.html or can be reviewed at the Refuge Visitor Center during business hours 8-4:30 M-F. A copy of the Environmental Assessment and Hunting Plan with Compatibility Determination can also be viewed at the Chillicothe Public Library.

Questions may be directed to Refuge Manager Steve Whitson at (660) 856-3323 ext 13. Comments must be received by close of business on Nov. 5, 2012 and can be dropped off at the Refuge Visitor Center. They may also be mailed to Swan Lake NWR, Attn: Hunting Plan Comments, 16194 Swan Lake Ave., Sumner, MO 64681; or emailed to steve_whitson@fws.gov with "Hunting Plan Comments" in the Subject Line

For more information on the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visit http://midwest.fws.gov.

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. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.