(Updated May 2, 2018)
TWRA launches Elk Cam
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's has launched a new elk cam located at the Hatfield Knob Viewing Area on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. The new cam has undergone testing and is now active for public viewing. A link to the elk cam is located on the TWRA website. It can be viewed on a cell phone, personal or desktop computer. The elk cam, which is operated by solar power, will be live during daylight hours. As many as 75 animals have been viewed at a single time on the cam. The area is off limits to any type of hunting. Viewers are encouraged to visit the site often as the elk move around and are not in viewing range all the time. The elk viewing area tower was constructed in 2005. Thousands of wildlife watchers have made their way to the tower located north of Lafollette in Campbell County. Elk were reintroduced to the North Cumberland WMA in 2000.
Nathan Karch, Melvin McLerran TWRA boating officers of the year
Nathan Karch and Melvin McLerran have been selected as the TWRA 2017 Boating Officer of the Year and part-time Boating Officer of the Year. Both officers are assigned to work TWRA Region II's District 21, a 12-county district in Middle Tennessee. District 21 contains the five major reservoirs of J. Percy Priest, Cordell Hull, Old Hickory, Cheatham, and Barkley.
Karch inspected 2,112 boats for compliance, issued 118 court citations for violations, 30 warning citations, administered field sobriety tests to eight boat operators and made three boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. Additionally, he assisted other TWRA officers with 54 violations and helped 112 boaters on the water that required immediate assistance. Karch worked patrol at major public marine events in the Nashville area. He also checked close to 2,200 people for various hunting, fishing, and access area violations throughout the year. He was the lead investigator on four boating incidents and assisted on three others, including a pair of fatalities. He also worked two drownings that were not boating related.
McLerran earned the part-time boating award for the second time in his career. His previous honor came for 2015. In his duties as a part-time officer, McLerran inspected 1,237 boats for compliance, issued 118 court citations for violations, 110 warning citations, administered field sobriety tests to six boating operators and made an arrest for boating under the influence (BUI). Additionally, McLerran assisted other TWRA officers with four BUI violations and helped 19 boaters on the water that required immediate assistance.
2018-19 Tennessee Wildlife Calendar Contest winners selected
The winning entries for the 2018-19 Tennessee Wildlife magazine photo contest have been selected by staff members of the TWRA. The selections will appear in the annual calendar issue of the magazine, which will be available in early July.
The staff selected photographs from hundreds of submissions and had the challenge to narrow the entries to 13 photos that will appear in the calendar issue. The 2018-19 calendar will begin with the month of August and continues through the following July. 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 selected entries are Danielle Knowles (Smithville), John Bell (Martin), Brian Shults (Greenback), Galya Loewen (Nashville), Becky McRae (Bartlett), Christopher Nelson (Cookeville), Holly Nelson (Rockwood), Samuel Hobbs (Goodspring), Cecil "Cal" Calloway (Murfreesboro), Mary Glynn Williamson (Nashville), and Ronnie George (Spring Hill).
Repairs at Bear Creek boat ramp underway this spring
Much needed repairs to the boat ramp at Bear Creek Lake in Lee County may put a damper on some fishing plans this spring. Contractors working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be renovating the boat ramp on the east side of the dam, which will require the ramp to be closed for roughly six weeks.
Justin Homan, AGFC fisheries supervisor out of the Brinkley Regional Office, says the repairs have come at a bad time for anglers this year, but are necessary to continue offering access to this treasure of east Arkansas. The previous ramp had many cracks and seams at the bottom end of the ramp that made launching a boat very difficult and hazardous to trailers, particularly during low water levels.
Owned by the U.S. Forest Service, Bear Creek Lake has a 9.9 maximum horsepower limit. Owners of boats with motors larger than this must disable the motors to be able to fish on the lake. Despite this restriction, Bear Creek is seen by many area anglers as a hot spot for bream and bass.
Anglers willing to launch a smaller boat or kayak will still be able to access the lake, and Mississippi River State Park rents out kayaks and aluminum boats with trolling motors that people could use if they don't own one.
Bear Zone 4 could be expanded
This summer, researchers from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the University of Arkansas at Monticello will attempt to determine whether bear zone 4, in the Gulf Coastal Plain of southern Arkansas, will join the state's four bear zones open for hunting.
For a six-week period beginning July 1, researchers will set up "hair traps" to figure out population densities of bears. The traps are rings of barbed wire around trees, which are baited. As bears investigate the bait, they rub against the barbed wire, which snags hairs. The hairs then can be analyzed and DNA tested to determine how many bears visited each bait site. From there, biologists can estimate total populations in the area.
Permit fee increase proposed for Bumpers White River NWR
Dale Bumpers White River national Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comments on a proposal to increase its permit fee from $12.50 to $25, and expand it to include all hunting, fishing camping and boating access on a yearly basis.
According to a recent release, "Beginning August 1, 2018, Dale Bumpers White River NWR is proposing to require each person who is hunting, applying for quota hunts, fishing, launching a boat or utilizing a campground to possess an Annual Public Use Permit. The permit fee will be $25 for those 16 years of age and over and free to all those 15 years of age and younger. Hunters will not be required to pay an additional permit fee if they are drawn for quota hunts."
Refuge Manager Charles "Bo" Sloan says the permit fee will provide more funding to improve and maintain refuge roads, trails, boat ramps and other amenities vital to the public's enjoyment of the refuge.
Wolf and Moon Lakes Remain Closed
In mid-April, the Mississippi River was holding at 42.32 feet on the Vicksburg gauge and 92.10-feet on the Steel Bayou Landside gauge. Pursuant to the order of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, those areas within the state previously inundated by Mississippi River floodwaters are now reopened to recreational boat traffic and the "no wake" lifted. However, all boaters are asked to continue to use caution when operating where waters remain high.
In addition, Wolf Lake and Moon Lake remained closed to all recreational boating activities until this order is removed. Boating in Wolf Lake and Moon Lake other than by people with property in the affected area was closed and wake zones will be enforced. Waters in these areas remain at high levels that are continuing to affect properties within.
The MDWFP will continue its 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.
For more information visit www.mdwfp.com or call (601) 432-2200. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/mdwfp or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MDWFPonline.
MDC reports 33 CWD positives out of nearly 24,500 samples tested
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports 33 news cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) have been found following the testing of 24,486 free-ranging Missouri deer through its 2017-2018 sampling and testing efforts. The new cases were from the following counties: Adair (3), Cedar (1), Franklin (4), Jefferson (1), Linn (7), Macon (3), Perry (1), Polk (3), St. Clair (4), and Ste. Genevieve (6).
Of the 33 new cases, 16 were from hunter-harvested deer, one was from a road-killed deer, and 16 were from MDC's post-season targeted culling efforts in the immediate areas around where previous cases have been found. This year's findings bring the total number of free-ranging deer in Missouri confirmed to have CWD to 75. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/cwd under "CWD in Missouri."
"For a third year in a row, we found no CWD-positive deer in central Missouri, where a single case was confirmed in early 2015," said MDC Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten. "Additionally, we found no cases of CWD on the Missouri-Arkansas border, despite the high level of CWD in northwest Arkansas."
The MDC will again require mandatory sampling of deer harvested during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season, Nov. 10 and 11, in and around counties where the disease has been recently found. MDC will again also offer voluntary CWD sampling during the entire fall and winter hunting season of deer harvested in and around counties where the disease has been recently found.
More information on specific counties, sampling locations, and requirements will be published in MDC's "2018 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information" booklet, and online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd, starting in July.