(Updated November 3, 2018)
TWRA requests public comment for 2019-20 waterfowl season
The TWRA is soliciting comments for its 2019-20 waterfowl and other migratory bird hunting regulations, including sandhill cranes. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff. The comment period is open through Nov. 30. Waterfowl and other migratory game bird hunting seasons are proposed to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its January meeting and voted upon at its February meeting.
Public comments will be considered by TWRA's Wildlife Division staff and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes. Comments may be submitted by mail to: 2019-20 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to [email protected]. Please include "Waterfowl Season Comments" on the subject line of emailed submissions.
Carter elected to serves as president of AFWA
TWRA executive director Ed Carter has been elected to serve as the 2018-19 president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). The election came at AFWA's 108th meeting held in Tampa, Fla. AFWA represents North America's fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.
Carter began his career in 1972 and has held positions in the divisions of Law Enforcement, Information and Education, and as TWRA Region II assistant manager for 25 counties in Middle Tennessee. He became TWRA's first Chief of the Boating Division when the division was formed in 1990. He was appointed TWRA's executive director in 2009.
Record cutthroat trout caught
An Arkansas fishing mark that had held for nearly 33 years finally fell recently when a Kansas angler making an annual trek with friends to the White River pulled in a cutthroat trout weighing 10 pounds, 2 ounces. The catch was certified by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's chief of fisheries.
Mike Bowers of Abilene, Kan., who said he has fished these waters for longer than the record had held and who makes two or three trips to Arkansas's northern trout streams each year, caught the 26-inch-long trout on a No. 15 baitholder hook with salmon eggs in the Norfork Tailwater (North Fork of the White River). He landed it in front of Gene's Trout Fishing Resort.
At first, he and his fishing partner, Jack Wickersham, thought Bowers had a brown trout on the line before pulling it in and noting the distinctive cutthroat marks. Onlookers at Gene's sensed it was something special, and the scale on the dock indicated as much.
"Several of them said, 'That's a new state record.' Those guys all started taking pictures and I didn't know a one of them," Bowers said. "Guys were coming down to the dock from out of their cabins or floating over there to see it."
The previous record from the White River was 9 pounds, 9 ounces, set Oct. 6, 1985.
Boat ramp dedicated at Horseshoe Lake
More than 100 local anglers and business owners joined the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in officially dedicating the first public boating access to Horseshoe Lake in Crittenden County. Nancy and Pat Bonds Access Area is named for the couple who donated the land to make the new free access possible. Horseshoe Lake has been a popular destination for decades, attracting anglers from all over Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. However, because the Mississippi River oxbow lake is surrounded by private land, accessing its waters has been on a pay-per-use basis.
"There's always been one or two people willing to let you launch from a private ramp for a small fee, but you never know if things will change in the future," said Justin Homan, AGFC regional fisheries biologist. "Thanks to the Bonds's generous donation, there will always be a place for people to launch a boat and enjoy this fantastic lake."
The AGFC was able to not only enhance the old ramp previously operated by the Bonds, but was able to create a full-fledged boating facility, complete with a double-wide concrete boat ramp, courtesy dock and a large asphalt parking area with space for up to 30 boat trailers.
"It used to just be a gravel lot and a little area of low-cut grass next to the ramp," Homan said. "We hope the improvement helps anglers access this already popular fishery."
Even with the donation, the total cost of the project was $260,000. Ben Batten, chief of fisheries for the AGFC, says Marine Fuel Tax funds were used to build the ramp and parking lot.
Gator catch just misses state record
With 81 filled tags, Arkansas's 2018 alligator hunting season ended just shy of the record harvest set last year. Mark Barbee, AGFC biologist at the Monticello Regional Office who coordinates the hunt, says this year's hunting conditions were not as favorable as last year, when hunters took 98 alligators during the season.
The success rate on Arkansas alligator hunts remains extremely high, with only 108 hunting tags available. This year saw the addition of five tags in Alligator Zone 2, the south-central portion of the state, which had never been open to hunting before. However, no alligators were checked from this zone during the hunt.
The southeast zone was responsible for 39 alligators harvested, while the southwest zone had 42 harvested animals. The harvest is typically fairly consistent, with zones trading places in total number of gators checked, depending on the weather and flooding.
The largest catch measured 13-feet, 6-inches harvested on a private land at-large tag holder in Arkansas County. The record still stands at 13-feet, 10-inches.
Non-resident waterfowl permits amended
Commissioners have voted to amend nonresident waterfowl permits to be valid only during certain portions of the duck season. The change, however, will not go into effect until the 2019-20 waterfowl season. According to the new regulation, nonresidents will be able to hunt waterfowl on certain Arkansas WMAs only during the first nine days of the first segment of waterfowl season, the first 12 days of the third segment of the season and the last nine days of the third segment of the season, beginning in the 2019-20 season. The 2018-19 season still will follow the same framework as last year, with nonresidents allowed to hunt ducks on certain WMAs any time during an open waterfowl season, but being limited to a maximum of six 5-day permits.
The proposal to regulate certain dates in which the permits are valid was introduced by Commissioners during the Commission's August meeting. The proposal was a response to public comments about crowded conditions at some of Arkansas's most popular public duck hunting areas.
"This isn't about us versus them," said Commissioner Stan Jones of Walnut Ridge. "It's about maintaining the quality of the hunt. Right now there's a hunter behind every tree. The nonresidents may even see where residents decide not to show up to those most popular places during those days because they know there will be crowds and choose to go elsewhere."
Chronic Wasting Disease Confirmed in Pontotoc County
Pontotoc – The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) received confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory that a white-tailed deer collected in Pontotoc County on October 8, 2018, tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). MDWFP has established the Pontotoc CWD Management Zone that includes Pontotoc and Union counties and all portions of Lee County west of Hwy 45. For any MDWFP-defined CWD Management Zone, it is unlawful to
· Supplemental feed;
· Establish new mineral sites or add supplements to existing sites;
· Remove certain portions of cervid carcasses from the zone (carcass regulations); or
· Trap wild hogs without a permit from MDWFP.
To monitor CWD in the Pontotoc Zone, MDWFP will rely on hunter-harvested deer during the 2018–19 hunting season. Hunters can submit deer for testing at established drop-off locations or MDWFP-staffed check stations.
MDWFP will host a public meeting to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) at North Pontotoc Attendance Center on Thursday, November 8 at 6:00 PM. Presentations by MDWFP staff will be on the status of CWD and planned monitoring activities. Biologists and Law Enforcement officials will be available to answer questions.
For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease visit www.mdwfp.com/cwd. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mdwfp or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MDWFPonline.
New regulations for CWD
The Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has adopted regulations for the revised Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone for the 2018-2019 hunting season. Regulations were approved after the 30 day comment period and take effect immediately. The new zone includes portions of Issaquena, Sharkey, and Warren counties and is identified as all areas south of Highways 14 and 16, areas west of the Yazoo River, all portions of Warren County, and all areas east of the Mississippi River.
The supplemental feeding ban and permitted hog trapping were lifted in Claiborne, Hinds, and Yazoo counties. Within the revised zone, supplemental feeding is banned and hog trapping must be permitted through Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). Also, no portions of cervid carcasses may be transported outside of the zone. For the turkey season, the MDWFP announced supplemental feeding from March 1 to the last day of turkey season is prohibited. This rule is in response to requests from turkey hunters to minimize unnatural concentration and movements of wild turkeys during the spring hunting season. MDWFP is assessing requests for the continuation of pelletized protein feed only during this period for white-tailed deer management. Also, mandatory harvest reporting for wild turkeys will begin during the 2019 spring turkey season. Harvest reporting is an important tool to gather useful information for management of wild turkey populations in Mississippi.
MDC predicts quail season to be good in parts of state
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) advises hunters that overall quail production was about the same as last year, but below the 10-year average. MDC staff note that good hunting can be found in areas with quality habitat in north and west-central portions of the state. The season opened Nov. 1.
Each August, MDC conservation agents record the numbers of quail they see while driving a 30-mile route – called the roadside index. A total of 110 routes are completed around the state. These numbers are then tallied and grouped by eight geographic areas of quail production – called zoogeographic regions.
According to MDC, this year's statewide average roadside index of 1.7 birds is the same as last year's and 15% below the previous 10-year average. Regionally, the roadside index ranged from 0 in the Northern and Eastern Ozark Border to 5.3 in the Northwest Prairie.