(Updated July 6, 2018)
Asian carp harvest incentive program planned for fall
In an effort to combat to the invasive Asian carp species, a commercial harvest incentive program will be developed in the fall of 2018. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's request of $500,000 budget expansion from the Marine Fuel Tax Fund was approved at the May meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. This will provide two years of funding for the program.
The TWRA, and other state and federal fish and wildlife organizations, have deemed the species as a threat to waterways. In high abundance, these fish can out-compete native fish for essential resources. Asian carp were brought to the United States for use in the aquaculture industry, and these fish then escaped into the Mississippi River. Using navigation locks to traverse dams, the fish are steadily moving about the Mississippi Basin, including the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers in Tennessee.
Along with competing with other fish species for food, it has been well-documented that Asian carp can be a safety threat to humans. They jump out of the water and have struck boaters or those on other recreational crafts or skiers.
Harvest of carp by commercial fishing is the most practical means to reduce carp abundance, and to control their movement upstream as a population, according to officials. TWRA is hoping this new commercial harvest incentive program will encourage more carp to be harvested for a variety of expanding markets.
WMA big game quota hunt application period ends July 25
The TWRA has announced the application period for the 2018 Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Big Game Quota Hunts, the regular elk, youth elk, and WMA youth will run from June 20 through July 25. Entries must be submitted before midnight (CDT) July 25. The WMA hunting instruction sheet lists locations and dates for each of the quota hunts along with drawing rules and regulations. Instruction sheets can be obtained and applications made for the hunts at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office or online at www.gooutdoorstennessee.com. Mailed applications will not be processed into the drawing system.
There is no fee for current Annual Sportsman License holders, Lifetime Sportsman License holders, or seniors possessing a Type 167 Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman License. For all other applicants, there is a non-refundable $12 permit fee for each drawing entered. There is a $1 agent fee for applications made at a license agent. When applying at a license agent, hunters must remain at the location while the application is processed to verify the information is correct on the receipt. For applications made on the internet, there is a $2 internet usage fee. If entering multiple quota hunts, a person must pay the permit and agent fee(s) for each quota hunt application submitted.
The WMA (elk hunts excluded) priority point system gives a priority point for each year a hunter participates (this year a maximum of 13 points) without being successfully drawn for a hunt. Applicants drawn for a hunt last year will start over with a priority of zero.
After all the drawings are conducted, leftover permits will be sold on-line, on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning Aug. 22 at 8 a.m. (CDT). The state's 10th gun elk hunt will be held Oct. 13-19 with seven individuals selected to participate. Six of the participants will be selected through a computer drawing conducted by the TWRA. The seventh participant will be the recipient of a permit that is donated to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. For the first time this year, that permit will be issued in a raffle.
Additionally, this will be the third year for an archery only hunt with seven permits added. Archery hunt dates are Sept. 29-Oct. 5.
Fish Die-Off on Kentucky and Barkley lakes
Boaters may have noticed recently that there is a large number of fish dying along the shoreline throughout Kentucky and Barkley lakes, an occurrence that the TWRA is aware of and investigating. The dead fish are silver carp, an invasive species that can negatively impact native fish and recreational boating. Because of these threats, the TWRA has been working to stem their expansion into new waters.
"While we are trying to learn how to slow or stop their expansion, the recent die-off of thousands of fish for whatever reason has occurred naturally," noted Frank Fiss, Chief of TWRA's Fisheries Division. "We have collected samples of the dead fish and sent them to a lab to identify the cause of the disease. This type of analysis is not always conclusive, but we are trying to gather as much information as possible."
Fiss said most of the dead fish were two years old but there are a lot of dead fish, and we are probably only seeing a tiny percentage of what actually inhabits the reservoir.
Life jackets ticket to sweet rewards
Wildlife officers throughout Arkansas will be looking to hand out some of the sweetest citations an angler could ask for this summer. Thanks to Sonic Drive In, AGFC wildlife officers will be armed with 10,000 special "ice cream citations" for youths on Arkansas waters when they're caught wearing their life jackets. According to AGFC Boating Law Administrator Stephanie Weatherington, these special tickets entitle youth who receive them to a small ice cream cone from their local Sonic restaurant.
"We've been able to offer this program for the last six years," Weatherington said. "Some officers have a few already, and we'll really ramp things up as we get closer to Independence Day weekend."
Weatherington says adults with those kids may even get a special citation if the wildlife officer sees them leading by example. "It's important that everyone wears a life jacket," Weatherington says. "Even people who think they can swim well can fall victim to drowning if they are tossed overboard far from shore or fall into the water unconscious." Many people drown because they fall out of a boat and are not wearing a fitted life jacket, Weatherington says.
MDWFP conservation officers place No. 1 at National LawFit Challenge
Conservation Officers from the MDWFP claimed the title of "Fittest in the Nation" as they took the top spot at the 17th annual National LawFit Challenge held recently in Southaven. Over 150 law enforcement officers from around the country competed in this year's challenge, testing officers in six different events: bench press, 1.5-mile run, sit-ups, flexibility, pull-ups, and a suspect pursuit course.
The 2018 MDWFP LawFit team consisted of officers Pvt. Derrick Scott, Corp. Justin Gates, Pvt. Cody Barber, Pvt. Cody Corso, Pvt. Tamarrius Good, Lt. Ricky Barry, Lt. Marcus Christon, Pvt. Karri Fulton.
"Our officers are the best of the best and this weekend's competition shows that. I am extremely proud of all six of these officers who represented themselves and their agency in such a positive light. Job well done," said Colonel Steve Adcock.
Local anglers assist with largemouth bass stocking at Ross Barnett
The MDWFP recently stocked Florida-strain largemouth bass into Ross Barnett Reservoir, with help from the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District and local bass anglers. Anglers set out of Hwy 43 ramps near Tommy's Trading Post and assisted in the transportation and release of approximately 25,000 fingerling bass into backwater areas to improve survival.
"Largemouth bass are a popular sport fish on Ross Barnett Reservoir," said MDWFP Fisheries Biologist Ryan Jones. According to Jones, the goal is to produce more trophy-sized bass for anglers to catch and to engage those anglers in conservation efforts at the reservoir. The fish were reared at MDWFP's Turcotte Fish Hatchery, located near Canton. MDWFP's hatcheries produce fish for stocking in public waters throughout Mississippi.
New canoe landing open on Bear Creek
The MDWFP had a ribbon cutting in late May for a new canoe landing at Tishomingo State Park. Funding for the canoe landing was provided through a grant from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with matching funds from MDWFP. The new landing provides easy access to the creek with a drive through drop off point for vehicles and trailers. The new construction also keeps the creek bank's stabilization in place, limiting the amount of sediment into Bear Creek. Those assisting in the project included the TVA, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Friends of Tishomgino State Park.
MDC expands deer feeding ban to more counties in response to CWD
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has expanded its restrictions on feeding deer and placing minerals for deer to seven new counties in response to finding cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in or near them. The seven new counties are: Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Grundy, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, and Perry. The feeding ban for these seven new counties became effective July 1.
These seven new counties join 41 existing counties of the Department's CWD Management Zone where feeding deer and placing minerals for deer are restricted. The Zone consists of counties in or near where cases of the disease have been found. The 48 counties are: Adair, Barry, Benton, Bollinger, Boone, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Gasconade, Grundy, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington.
MDC confirmed 33 new cases of CWD following the testing of nearly 24,500 free-ranging Missouri deer through its sampling and testing efforts last season. The new cases were found in Adair, Cedar, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, Perry, Polk, St. Clair, and Ste. Genevieve counties. These new cases bring the total number of free-ranging deer in Missouri confirmed to have CWD to 75.