(Updated June 3, 2017)
Periodic road closures at Busseltown Unit during summer
The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge has announced that the Busseltown Unit of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge outside of Parsons will be experiencing some road closures from May 22-July 7 for road improvements and construction of new impoundments.
The Service will be continuing a partnership project with Ducks Unlimited to create additional impoundments on the Busseltown Unit that will increase the amount of flooded habitat we can provide to wintering waterfowl. Once this project is complete this closure will enhance the benefits of these impoundments and provide additional food resources for wintering waterfowl in the area.
This closure will impact some anglers and visitors that utilize this area to access the Tennessee River and existing impoundments through refuge boat ramps. The refuge staff hopes for public understanding that this closure is necessary to ensure that we meet our stated waterfowl objectives for the refuge and continue to provide good road access into the unit.
2017-18 wildlife calendar contest winners selected
The winning entries for the 2017-18 Tennessee Wildlife magazine photo contest have been selected by staff members of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). The selections will appear in the annual calendar issue of the magazine which will be available in early July.
The staff selected the winning photographs from hundreds of submissions and had the challenge to narrow the entries to 13 photos that will appear in the calendar issue. The 2017-18 calendar will begin with the month of August. Other entries will be kept on file and could have the opportunity to appear in future agency publications and on the agency's website.
The photographers with the winning 2017-18 entries are Paul Bay (Greenback), Ray Gobernatz (Palmyra), Ralph Hensley (Hiltons, Va.), Ron Jackson (Clarksville), Becky McRae (Bartlett), Holly Nelson (Rockwood), Richard Powers (Louisville, Tenn.), Brian Shults (Greenback), Rick Small (Rock Hill, S.C.), and Nicole Witzel (Nashville).
Research being conducted on Pygmy rattlesnakes
The TWRA is assisting wildlife biologists at Tennessee State University in research to determine the distribution of pygmy rattlesnakes in Tennessee. The pygmy rattlesnake is listed as a threatened species in Tennessee and the research will help in conservation efforts to preserve the species in the state. Native to Tennessee, pygmy rattlesnakes are predators that are rarely encountered and play important ecological roles, including the control of rodent populations. These tiny snakes will rattle their tails when threatened, but bites are extremely rare and non-fatal if treatment is administered. The snakes are seldom seen by humans.
Previous pygmy rattlesnake sightings, along with photographs, can also be reported with specific location data and the date of the sighting. Persons are reminded not to harass or attempt to capture the snakes. The TWRA does not want anyone to endanger themselves.
Pygmy rattlesnake sightings and information may be reported to one of the following biologists: Shawn Snyder, Email: [email protected] or (717) 683-4226; Dr. Bill Sutton, Email: [email protected] or (615) 963-7787.
Fishing rule changes for lakes announced
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) Fisheries Bureau announced fishing regulation changes on several MDWFP managed lakes. At Lake Tom Bailey in Lauderdale County, the rule change removes the 15-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass and increases the daily creel limit to 10 largemouth bass per angler. The daily creel limit will be 10 bream and 5 crappie per angler at the Olive Branch City Park ponds, and the McMillian Park pond in Carthage, the largemouth bass daily creel limit was increased to two fish per angler.
These rule changes became effective on May 28. For more information regarding fishing in Mississippi, visit www.mdwfp.com or call (601) 432-2200. Follow us on Facebook atfacebook.com/mdwfp or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MDWFPonline.
Groundbreaking dinosaur exhibit opens
The most complex and far-reaching exhibit of dinosaurs and their world ever created opened at MDWFP's Mississippi Museum of Natural Science on May 20 and runs through December 30, 2017. "Be the Dinosaur: Life in the Cretaceous" is a fusion of state-of-the-art video game technology and traditional exhibits featuring full-size dinosaur bones, a paleontology field station, a Safari jeep, and more!
"Come explore some of the greatest mysteries of paleontology in a completely interactive way," said Charles Knight, Museum Director. What was a day in the life of a dinosaur like? How might they have lived? What can fossil evidence tell us about the way extinct animals lived their lives?
Trace State Park Lake closed for dam repairs
The MDWFP closed Old Natchez Trace Lake at Trace State Park in late April. MDWFP has completed the process of draining the lake in preparation for planned repairs to the dam. Other activities, including fishing in the smaller lake near the Park entrance, will remain open. "We encourage our customers to continue to use our amenities like the hiking, mountain bike, and equestrian trails, as well as day-use areas, disc golf, and RV camping," said Jennifer Head, Director of State Parks. After repairs are complete, the lake will be filled and stocked with bass, bream, crappie, and catfish. For more information, contact Jennifer Head, State Parks Director or Larry Pugh, Fisheries Bureau Director at (601) 432-2400.
Turkey harvest sees slight dip from last year
Turkey hunters in Arkansas checked 10,066 birds during the recently concluded season in April. This year's season featured 16 days for all hunters and two more days at the front end of the season for the annual statewide youth turkey hunt. The regular season also features an earlier start, by five days, from the 2016 season, but leaving no quiet period between the end of the youth hunt and the beginning of the regular season. Last year, hunters harvested 11,853 turkeys.
"We were expecting the harvest to be down a little because we've had fairly poor hatches the last couple of years," said Brad Carner, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's chief of wildlife management.
Youth hunters checked 958 birds, down from the 1,336 birds checked during 2016. However, unexpected complications with a new checking system affected the ability to check birds during the youth hunt and first day of the regular season. Some youth hunters had trouble reporting their turkeys via telephone checking because the system for reporting required a conservation ID number, which hunters under age 16 aren't required to have, Carner said. Youth were able to check turkeys through online and the AGFC's smartphone app, however. After correcting the phone system checking for youth, some glitches arose for adults trying the check game on opening Monday, but that problem was corrected quickly, Carner said.
Urban bow hunt applications available through August 18
The application period for Arkansas's special urban bowhunts for the 2017-18 hunting season is now open and will run until 6:30 p.m., August 18. Hunters interested in participating in the Cherokee Village, Russellville, Fairfield Bay, Horseshoe Bend, Heber Springs and Hot Springs Village hunts should visit http://www.arkansasbowhunters.org/ to register online or contact J.D. Crawford at [email protected] Hunters wishing to participate in the Bull Shoals or Lakeview hunts should contact the Bull Shoals Urban Bowhunters Association's President Bill Craker at [email protected]
As a stipulation of the hunt, all hunters must donate their first adult deer harvested to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Additionally, hunters who participate in the hunts must attend an orientation where they must pass a proficiency test with their archery equipment. A $50 orientation fee is collected by the bowhunting organizations, which helps offset some of the processing cost of the deer donated to AHFH through the program.
Hot Springs resident lands $1,000 while fishing for dinner
Maurice Bradford of Hot Springs was fishing from the bank near the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery on Lake Hamilton, looking to land enough fish for a Saturday evening dinner. At around 8 p.m., fishing with crickets, he snagged something better: A $1,000 prize fish in the 2017 $86,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge. It was a half-pound bluegill 8.5 inches long. The half-pound bluegill was the fifth fish caught thus far in the 2017 Fishing Challenge and the second prize fish taken this year from Lake Hamilton. Fifty-six prize fish worth a total of $82,500 remain in Lake Catherine and Lake Hamilton including the elusive $15,000 Big Al. Big Al is the name given to a fish, this year a largemouth bass, bearing a lucky $15,000 2017 Fishing Challenge tag. Since the Challenge began in 2012, no one has ever caught Big Al. In 2016 Big Al was worth $10,000. Big Al's species was revealed on May 1 and additional clues will be given out during June about Big Al if he has not been caught by then. The sixth annual Hot Springs Fishing Challenge will end at 5 p.m. on June 30. For additional information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.
Spring turkey hunters harvest 43,339 birds
Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that turkey hunters checked 39,239 birds during Missouri's 2017 regular spring turkey season April 17 through May 7. Top harvest counties were Franklin with 932 birds checked, Texas with 843, and Callaway with 697. Young turkey hunters harvested 4,100 birds during the 2017 spring youth season, April 8-9, bringing the overall 2017 spring turkey harvest to 43,339. The 2016 overall spring turkey harvest was 48,374 birds with 4,167 harvested during the youth weekend and 44,207 during the regular spring season.