WASHINGTON — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is directing dozens of wildlife refuges to return to work to make sure hunters and others have access despite the government shutdown.

The Associated Press obtained an email sent Tuesday from Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

In it, Everson advises that 38 wildlife refuges around the country will bring back furloughed staff using carryover funds. Everson cites "opportunities, including hunting" that are being lost in the shutdown.

The more than two-week-old government shutdown has handicapped government services and furloughed hundreds of thousands of government employees without pay. Wildlife groups urged Wednesday that refuges and national parks be closed in the shutdown to prevent harm.