(Updated March 30, 2018)
Chronic Wasting Disease Test Results Returned
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) began Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) sampling efforts in late February in the 5-mile CWD Containment Zone. Sixty-four samples were collected and submitted for testing. The results were returned on March 5 indicating all samples were "not detected for CWD". In addition, numerous samples from purported sick and road-killed deer have been submitted for testing and these results will be shared upon receipt.
DNA analysis was conducted on the CWD-positive buck that was collected in Issaquena County on January 25. Results suggest the buck's genetics match nearby free-range populations. MDWFP will continue to collect samples from the CWD Management Zone in an effort to determine the extent and prevalence of CWD in local deer populations.
For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease, or to report a sick deer, visit www.mdwfp.com/cwd. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mdwfp or on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/MDWFPonline.
Recreational Boating Restrictions/Flooded areas designated no wake zones
When the Mississippi River reached forty-three (46.2) feet on the Vicksburg gauge and ninety-two (92.10) feet on the Steel Bayou Landside gauge, pursuant to the order of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, all areas within the state inundated by Mississippi River floodwaters are "no wake" zones, and any boating in affected areas other than by people with property in affected areas, is discouraged. In addition, Wolf Lake was closed to all recreational boating activities until this order is removed. Boating in Wolf Lake other than by people with property in the affected area, was closed and wake zones will be enforced.
The MDWFP continues to increased its law enforcement presence in the affected areas to patrol the levees and waterways, to promote public safety for residents affected by the rising waters, and to enforce the wildlife laws that protect animals affected by flooding.
2018 Fishing Forecast for Central Mississippi Lakes
The MDWFP fisheries biologists are excited about the upcoming fishing season in Central Mississippi. "Fall electrofishing revealed a healthy largemouth bass population on Ross Barnett Reservoir," said MDWFP fisheries biologist Ryan Jones. Largemouth bass over 15 inches were abundant in the 2017 fish population samples. According to Jones, "this abundance is due to a large spawn in 2013, and I expect the average size of the catch to be bigger this year." Another productive lake for largemouth bass is Okatibbee Reservoir north of Meridian. The average lunker weight caught during tournaments was 6.7 pounds in 2017. Trophy bass continue to be caught at Neshoba County Lake and Simpson County Lake. Last year, a bass weighing 14.3 pounds set the Neshoba County Lake record. April is a great time to catch these big spawners on shallow beds.
Panfish anglers have many options to choose from. Anglers should travel to Lake Prentiss Walker near Mize or north of Vicksburg to Eagle Lake for some of the best bream fishing in the state. Harvested bream average over half a pound at both lakes. Ross Barnett Reservoir is a great location in central Mississippi to catch quality crappie, but Okatibbee Reservoir, Kemper County Lake, and Eagle Lake also boast healthy crappie populations.
Voluntary Survey Allows Hunters to Aid Wild Turkey Management
Turkey hunters with an interest in helping the conservation and management of their favorite game bird can aid the MDWFP by acting as their on-the-ground eyes and ears. Participation in the MDWFP's annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey (SGHS) gives turkey hunters a chance to collect data that is used to track populations and evaluate management decisions.
"The amount of information we get on the state's turkey population from the SGHS is without equal. We have a really dedicated team of hunters from every corner of Mississippi who are willing to share their observations with us. The data we get back literally represents thousands of hunting trips afield," said Adam Butler, MDWFP Wild Turkey Program Coordinator. "Without the willingness of those volunteer hunters that participate in the survey, there's absolutely no way we could acquire that level of information about Mississippi's turkey flock," he continued.
The survey was initiated in 1995 to supplement other sources of data available to the MDWFP on the state's wild turkeys. Since then it has grown to encompass nearly 1,200 hunters each spring. "Turkey hunters who participate benefit because we provide them with individualized reports on the specific data they give to us. They're then able to track observations, gobbling activity, and other stats within their own local hunting areas. We (the MDWFP) benefit from the sheer volume of information the hunters are able to gather. I think everyone is better off in the end, because the more we know, the better we can manage the resource," said Butler.
Participation in the SGHS is free and easy and only requires a few minutes after each hunt to record observations in a booklet provided by the MDWFP to hunters. All hunters, regardless of skill or experience level, are encouraged to participate. Hunters interested in becoming involved in the survey can enroll online at www.mdwfp.com/turkey or by contacting the MDWFP at (601) 432-2199.
2018-19 Clean Stream grants assist habitat protection program
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announces the availability of grant dollars to assist cities, schools, community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups, etc., with stream clean-up projects and planting projects during the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Five grants, at a maximum of $1,000 each, are available for each of TWRA's four regional Aquatic Habitat Protection projects (a total of $5,000 per region). The funds will be obligated as grants, so the grantee must have a nonprofit tax number. The projects are to be completed, the money spent, and a report submitted by June 30, 2019. The application deadline for this program is June 30.
The grant money could be used to buy supplies such as rakes, work gloves, and garbage bags. Also, it could be used to pay disposal fees for solid waste and tire removal or to provide promotional items like project advertisement or T shirts and refreshments for volunteer support.
Grant proposals should include the applicant organization's name, tax ID number, address, phone, and name of a contact person authorized to enter into contractual agreement on behalf of the organization. The proposal should also include the name of the stream, county or counties involved, and the project area and description.
Contact TWRA's Della Sawyers at (615) 781-6577 or by email at [email protected] with any questions.
2018-19 waterfowl hunting regulations set
The 2018-19 state waterfowl hunting regulations have been set by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. The TFWC also elected its new officers for 2018-19.
Seasons and bag limits for most migratory gamebirds will be similar to 2017-18 with a few slight changes. There will be an increase of the daily bag limit for pintails from one bird a day to two birds a day. The youth waterfowl hunts which occur on consecutive Saturdays in February have a change, increasing the age for participants by a year. The hunts have been for youth ages 6 to 15, but the Commission approved the agency's recommendation for youth from ages 6 to 16 to fall in line with other TWRA youth hunts such as deer and turkey. Federal regulations were also recently changed to include 16-year old hunters. Next year's regulations include an expansion for most goose seasons to include more days. The bag limit of white-fronted geese would increase from two birds a day to three a day. The statewide sandhill crane hunting season will remain the same with only a change in calendar dates.
The commission approved an amendment to its rule on restrictions of importation of deer, elk, moose, and caribou carcasses to include all U.S. states and Canadian provinces, rather than just those that have confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD).
Jeff Cook (Franklin) will move into the chairman role after serving as vice chairman. Kurt Holbert (Decaturville) moves from secretary to vice chairman and Brian McLerran (Moss) becomes an officer as the secretary. Jamie Woodson (Lebanon) served as the chair the past year and was praised by her colleagues for her tenure in the position. She will continue to serve as a member of the commission.
MDC and CFM thank deer hunters for Sharing the Harvest
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) thanked the thousands of Missouri deer hunters who donated 289,292 pounds of venison to the state's Share the Harvest program this past deer season. The donated deer meat will help feed hungry Missourians all around the state.
This season's total of 289,292 pounds of venison included nearly 5,600 whole deer. Hunters donated 198,277 pounds of venison the year before. Since the program was started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided nearly 4 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians.
Share the Harvest is coordinated by MDC and CFM. It works by deer hunters donating their extra venison to more than 100 participating meat processors throughout the state who grind the deer meat into ready-to-use packages. The packaged venison is then given to local food banks and food pantries for distribution to Missourians in need of food assistance.
Ramping up roadkill surveys
Biologists are ramping up roadkill surveys for the next month and are asking all Arkansans to report any dead deer they see along roads and highways. Road-killed deer offer biologists a chance to monitor for chronic wasting disease throughout the state without the need to kill deer to obtain samples.
With the recent confirmation of a CWD-positive deer found in Mississippi, 45 miles from the southeastern corner of Arkansas, biologists are very hopeful that hunters and motorists in that area of the state will report any roadkill by calling 1-800-482-9262 as soon as possible.