Hunting enthusiasts in the Philadelphia area have a new opportunity to pursue their game locally, as the U.S. Department of Interior has announced that white-tailed deer hunting will be allowed in a national wildlife refuge adjacent to Philadelphia International Airport.
Allowing only bow and arrow, the hunt will be limited to 10 days a year on the 1,000-acre expanse.
In a Sept. 7 statement, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke officially greenlighted hunting in John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, noting that the move is part of his efforts to expand community access to public land.
Slated to begin in 2019, the refuge will be closed to the public on hunt days, WHYY reports. In addition, no more than 12 hunters will be allowed to hunt per day, and will be assigned by lottery, with preference given to youth first-time hunters, disabled hunters and veterans.
The move to open up the hunting of white-tailed deer in the refuge is part of over 251,000 acres of new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 30 national wildlife refuges across the country’s National Wildlife Refuge System.
“American sportsmen and women contribute over a billion dollars a year to fund conservation. Without hunters and anglers, we wouldn't be able to conserve wildlife and habitat; and, without access to our public lands like National Wildlife Refuges, many hunters would have nowhere to go," Secretary Zinke said in the release.
“The last thing I want to see is hunting to become an elite sport, rather than a tradition passed on from generation to generation. Today's announcement protects critical conservation funding, and ensures sportsmen have access to public lands for generations to come,” he added.
According to WHYY, deer in the refuge was previously killed by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the meat donated to state food banks.