(Updated March 1, 2019)
CWD deer sampling successful; zone expanded
At press-time, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced its initial chronic wasting disease (CWD) response efforts were successful in the agency sampling more than 2,700 deer for the disease in the CWD Management Zone with the assistance of hunters.
"Thanks to the cooperation of hunters and efforts by Agency staff, we exceeded our sampling goals for the CWD Management Zone," said Chuck Yoest, CWD Coordinator. "The information gathered from these efforts is critical to developing a successful long-term CWD management plan."
The CWD Management Zone, established in December, had grown to include eight southwest Tennessee counties. The counties are Chester, Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Madison, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton. Tipton County was the latest addition upon confirmation of a CWD positive deer harvested near its border in the adjacent Fayette County.
Statewide, TWRA by mid-February was able to obtain samples from almost 5,400 deer during the 2018-19 deer hunting seasons. All CWD positives found were harvested in Fayette, Hardeman and Madison counties.
The TWRA announced that all the results from the samples to be received by the agency should be completed by late February TWRA. Once the results are received and analyzed, final development of the long-term CWD management plan will be completed.
Spring turkey quotas available on-line
The results for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's 2019 Spring Turkey and Youth Spring Turkey Quota hunts are now available at quotahunt.gooutdoors.com. Customers will receive an email whether they were successful or unsuccessful. If a customer does not have an email on file, he or she will be mailed a physical permit. Successful customers with an email will need to print their permit from the TWRA website. The application period for the 2019 quota hunts was Dec. 12 through Jan. 16.
Meetings focus on Greers Ferry Lake Fisheries Management Plan
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will hold a second public meeting from 6-8 p.m. on March 19 to review a draft of the Greers Ferry Lake Management Plan at the Heber Springs Community Center.
In the first meeting last month biologists included presentations of recent research and fisheries-related management of the lake, including the current status of the fish population, results from the recent angler creel survey, habitat projects and threadfin shad stockings to boost the lake's forage base. The new plan will guide fisheries management activities on Greers Ferry for the next five years. The Heber Springs Community Center is located at 201 Bobbie Jean Lane, Heber Springs, Arkansas.
Snow goose conservation hunt raised $31,000 for charity
The first World Championship Snow Goose Conservation Hunt, organized by Mack's Prairie Wings and held Feb. 9-10, raised $31,000 for charity, with a third of that going to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a nonprofit that works with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and hunters to provide wild game for needy, hungry recipients.
Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry is mostly known for accepting donations of harvested deer and turning the venison into meals for food banks and for snacks sticks distributed for the Snacks in the Schools Program. The addition of waterfowl has been something that program director Ronnie Ritter has tried to incorporate for a while, he said. With the first Snow Goose Conservation Hunt producing a harvest of 1,160 light geese over the two days, Ritter was able to contribute every goose to the John 3:16 Ministries in Batesville for processing and for feeding its clients.
The Snow Goose Conservation Hunt drew 31 teams of 10 hunters each to the two-day event, with team entry costing $1,000. Every dollar of the entry fee was divided evenly among Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl.
Meanwhile, Mack's Prairie Wings and an assortment of sponsors provided merchandise that totaled $62,500 in a winner-take-all event, with prizes divided among the 10 members of the winning team.
The winning group, Wings of the Prairie Outfitters, was an assemblage of armed forces veterans from around the country who try to get together annually for hunting or fishing trips.
The Light Goose Conservation Order continues in Arkansas through April 25. During the order, there is no daily or possession limit on snow, blue or Ross's geese, gun magazines do not require a plug, electronic calls are allowed, and shooting time runs from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. The order, established in 1999, is an effort to reduce the light goose population, which has grown in such number that biologist believe is damaging geese habitat, particularly in their staging and breeding grounds in the sub-arctic tundra.
2019 fishing and trout fishing guidebooks available
The latest edition of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's fishing and trout fishing guidebooks are being distributed to AGFC offices and license dealers around the state. The guide is free and contains a few changes from 2018.
Among the changes for 2019 is the reduction of the 50 fish/day creel limit on crappie in Horseshoe Lake in Crittenden County to a 30 fish/day daily limit, putting it in line with statewide limits.
Other changes in the 2019 guides include:
• Removal of the 16- to 21-inch protective slot limit on largemouth bass in Tommy L. Sproles Lake Pickthorne in Lonoke County.
• Restricting largemouth bass harvest on lakes Dunn and Austell in Cross County to 10 largemouth bass per day with only one fish over 20 inches long. Anglers are encouraged to harvest small bass to allow better growth of remaining fish.
• Reduction of all sportfish daily limits to half of the statewide limit on Lake Chicot in Chicot County during its planned 2019 drawdown.
• Addition of the White Hall Community Pond in Jefferson County and the Arkansas State University Pond in Craighead County to Family and Community Fishing Program daily limits and restrictions.
• Prohibiting all possession of live Asian carp.
• Restricting fishing on Cypress Bayou Wildlife Management Area in Lonoke and White counties, Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA in Woodruff County, and University of Arkansas Pine Tree Experimental Station Wildlife Demonstration Area in St. Francis County to rod and pole fishing only.
Something new this spring turkey season
This spring the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) will begin a new era in wild turkey management with the implementation of the Game Check system. Game Check will require turkey hunters to report their harvest to the MDWFP by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest.
Ease of use has been the primary consideration in the system's development, and it should take less than a minute to meet your reporting obligation when you harvest a bird. You will have three options to choose from to report your gobbler. Of these three, if you have a smartphone, you should strongly consider taking advantage the mdwfp app, because it can serve as a one-stop-shop for all the steps in the harvest reporting process. The MDWFP app is available for free download from the Apple or Android store.
For hunters who do not use the mobile app, they will need a hardcopy harvest record. MDWFP has a hardcopy harvest record containing everything the hunter will need, which can be downloaded and printed. You may also create your own. However, no matter your choice – mobile app, official MDWFP hardcopy harvest record, or a homemade harvest record – you must be prepared to begin the harvest reporting process by documenting your kill on your harvest record BEFORE moving your bird.
WMA turkey hunters, take note: New season frameworks
Several Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) will be receiving new turkey season frameworks in 2019. On Malmaison, Choctaw, Marion County, Mason Creek and Little Biloxi WMAs, the start of the regular spring turkey season will be delayed until April 1. These changes were made to proactively address long-term declines in harvest by delaying the opening day so that it more closely aligns with the timing of peak gobbling and nesting. This change will potentially carry more gobblers over from year to year, which will help to mitigate the negative effects of bad hatch years when they occur. These changes are planned to remain in place for a minimum of three years, over which time biologists will measure their effectiveness. Similar experimental approaches to turkey harvest management on public lands are being tried in several other southeastern states. The closure of spring turkey season on these five areas will remain May 1. Season dates are March 8-14 (youth) and March 15-May 1.
More than 9,000 feral hogs eliminated in 2018
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has tallied up feral hog elimination numbers from January through December 2018. The final number is 9,365 feral hogs removed from the state's landscape by MDC, partner agencies, and private landowners. In 2017, 6,561 feral hogs were removed.
MDC and partners have implemented a new strategy to feral hog elimination, dividing the areas where feral hogs are present into elimination areas 1 through 6. Trapping is currently ongoing in each zone. Zone one, near the Harry S. Truman Reservoir and Stockton Lake, is benefiting from a significantly reduced population of feral hogs. The goal continues to be complete elimination of feral hogs from Missouri.
Feral hogs are not wildlife and are a serious threat to fish, forests and wildlife as well as agricultural resources. Feral hogs damage property, agriculture, and natural resources by their aggressive rooting of soil in addition to their trampling and consumption of crops as part of their daily search for food.
Feral hogs have expanded their range in the U.S. from 17 to 38 states over the past 30 years. Their populations grow rapidly because feral hogs can breed any time of year and produce two litters of one to seven piglets every 12 to 15 months. Feral hogs are also known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis, which are a threat to Missouri agriculture and human health.