Outdoor Life Online Editor

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to tighten restrictions on use of an area of the upper Mississippi River. The plan is being designed to reduce human stress on the fragile river environment and improve wild habitats.

Boating, hunting, and camping restrictions will be placed along 261 miles of the river in an area that touches Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The $126 million plan would limit duck hunters to 25 shotgun s hells a day. The plan also includes charging a fee to camp on the river’s small islands.

Officials agree that the tightened regulations represent the best way to protect the fragile environment that is home to about 1 million waterfowl and migratory birds. Many hunters vehemently disagree. More hunting-free zones along the river means less access to waterfowl hunters. Recent public hearings in Iowa and Wisconsin have been crowded with angry hunters who protest the idea of tightened restrictions.

The wildlife service plan is open for public comment until August 31, 2005.