Autumn hunting regs in New River Gorge national park unchanged

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Autumn hunting regs in New River Gorge national park unchanged
Hunting is permitted in parts of the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. (Photo courtesy Julian Hanslmaier)

Hunting regulations in the newly established New River Gorge National Park & Preserve will remain unchanged for the autumn 2021 hunting season, despite the park's federal redesignation last year.

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Though change may come hunting in America's newest national park will remain as expressed at the park service website here at least until 2022, according to Eve West, the park's Chief of Interpretation, Visitor Services, and Cultural Resources.

"For the fall 2021 hunting season, regulations at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve will remain the same as they have in previous seasons," West said.

"New regulations for hunting are on the horizon in response to the park’s recent redesignation to 'national park and preserve;' however, hunters and hikers should be aware that these changes will not take effect until January 1, 2022."

The park will announce the new hunting regulations this fall, West said.

Established in 1978 as a national river, the park was officially named America's 63rd national park in December 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a relief bill.

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Hunting is permitted throughout much of the park, which is located in southern West Virginia, but is prohibited within 500 feet of heavy visitor use areas, including at established campgrounds, day-use areas, and visitor centers.

Hunting is also notably prohibited in the park at Grandview, Camp Brookside, the Arrowhead Trail Area, the Park Loop Trail Area, and at the Burnwood Environmental and Education Area.

In addition, under West Virginia state hunting regulations, it is illegal to shoot a firearm within 500 feet of a school, church, dwelling, or other places where people socially gather.

Regulations also prohibit ATV and ORV use on trails and off-road in the park.

Visitors who are out enjoying the trails during hunting season should consider following a few extra safety precautions.

  • Wear blaze orange and include an orange vest for pets.
  • Stay on established trails, avoid cross-country travel, and consider hiking in areas where hunting is prohibited.
  • Leave-No-Trace principles are always encouraged but are especially important during hunting season, and remember to recreate responsibly when visiting the park.

Hunting is mandated by law within New River Gorge National Park & Preserve as directed in the enabling legislation that created the park because it is a “national park and preserve.”

For additional National Park Service units that allow hunting, see https://www.nps.gov/subjects/hunting/visit.htm.

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