(Updated June 3, 2019)
Meeting the challenge to help hungry people
Hunger Challenge is an initiative of the Federation's Hunters for the Hungry program, which connects food banks and soup kitchens with caring deer hunters.
The challenge raises critical funds to help feed hungry Tennesseans and serves as an educational experience for students. By participating, students gain important skills in humanitarianism, club-building, leadership, and philanthropy.
"The Hunger Challenge is just one example of how Tennessee Wildlife Federation is constantly working to engage youth in the outdoors," said Matt Simcox, Hunters for the Hungry manager.
Christian Brothers High School earned the most points in the state for venison donations, fundraising, and volunteer work.
They won the Statewide School Top Gun Award for raising more money for the program than any other school—$20,000, which will support processing of 67,200 servings of venison. The school also secured donations of venison that will provide 1,848 servings of venison to those in need in the area.
Will Wolbrecht and Patrick Koch, both of Christian Brothers, tied for the Top Fundraisers. Will was the Top Harvester—donating 11 deer.
McKenzie High School earned the second most points in Region 1.
They were also awarded the Statewide Top School Harvester Award for donating 26 deer—approximately 4,368 servings of venison––more than any other school in Tennessee.
McKenzie High School also raised $2,500 for the program, which will make processing 8,400 additional servings of venison possible.
Clean Stream grants available
The TWRA announced 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 2019-20 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, 2020. The application deadline for this program is June 30, 2019.
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.
CWD and Asian carp continues to draw commission's attention
A presentation on 2019-20 hunting regulations within the chronic wasting disease (CWD) affected counties and an Asian carp update was discussed by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.
A proposal for changes to deer hunting regulations for 2019-20 season in positive and high-risk chronic wasting disease (CWD) counties was presented that included viable options for minimizing the prevalence of CWD, maximizing containment of the disease, maximizing stakeholder buy-in and participation, as well as minimizing conflicts with small game hunters, trappers, and landowners.
The current positive and high-risk counties would remain in Unit L, but would have some additional harvest opportunities. During the August deer hunt, gun, muzzleloader, and archery would be allowed with a two antlered deer limit that would be in addition to a hunter's annual antlered deer limit of two. WMAs would be open to the public for the August hunt. During the other seasons, for a buck found to be CWD positive, a replacement buck will be allowed. Harvests made on select weekends will require mandatory check-in at stations.
An Asian carp update was given citing that commercial harvest is the most effective method in the removal of invasive species. The Asian carp incentive program which began last fall is continuing to grow and has resulted in 718,000 pounds removed to date. Also discussed were the containment measures including the accidental transport and reduction of immigration at navigation locks.
The commission approved a federally-funded study on mallards behavior and use of wetlands. Mallards provide 74 percent of the migrating birds in Tennessee. The project will help the agency be more efficient and effective with habitat management.
The TFWC also approved a federally-funded cooperative project with Ducks Unlimited to enhance some wetland area within the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. The expectation of the project is that it will contribute to the management of the area and increase hunting and viewing opportunities.
The commission passed a rule to permanently establish carcass exportation and feeding restrictions for positive and high risk CWD zone counties. Information about the restrictions and which counties they apply to will continue to be updated and publicly available.
Eastern monarch populations on the rise
For the first time in 12 years, eastern monarch populations are up significantly. The overwintering monarch population numbers, released by the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico, show the highest numbers since 2007.
Monarch numbers have been declining since the late 1990s, causing much concern and prompting many conservation groups to take action. This winter, the population saw a 144 percent increase from the previous winter. Researchers think favorable weather during spring and summer breeding season and fall migration period played a role in the increase. There has been a significant effort to conserve monarchs for the last five years in Arkansas and across the U.S., including planting milkweed and nectar plants and reducing the use of herbicides. Perhaps some of these efforts are starting to bear fruit.
The first monarchs began trickling into The Natural State around late March. These first-generation monarchs wore faded and tattered wings as they frantically searched for milkweed to lay their eggs on. First generation monarchs are slowly giving way to second generation monarchs, which will look much fresher and brighter. Some of these butterflies will stay and breed, while others will continue to migrate north. AGFC has been monitoring monarchs using citizen science for the last two years. Data collected are helping biologists understand the timing of migration and where exactly the monarchs are occurring in the state.
If you would like to report your observations, the Arkansas Monarch Mapping project can be found on the iNaturalist webpage, www.inaturalist.org/projects/arkansas-monarch-mapping-project.
You can also report sightings directly to Allison Fowler, wildlife diversity program coordinator at [email protected].
Water Quality Initiative Targets Two Watersheds in Mississippi
The United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers in two impaired watersheds in Mississippi through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). This voluntary program assists eligible producers in watersheds with impairments to enact conservation actions that help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities.
The two eligible watersheds are Porter Bayou, a tributary of the Big Sunflower River in Bolivar and Sunflower Counties and North Tippah Creek, a tributary of the Tippah River in Benton and Tippah Counties.
"Water is our greatest natural resource, and nothing can survive without it," stated Kurt Readus, NRCS State Conservationist for Mississippi. "The National Water Quality Initiative will further our partnership efforts to improve water quality and bolsters the positive results of conservation initiatives already underway."
Funding for the NWQI is provided from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). NRCS will provide producers with funding and technical assistance for the installation of conservation practices that include cover crops, filter strips, and terraces.
Venison donated to Share the Harvest after CWD testing wraps up
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Mississippi Lime Company (MLCO) recently dropped off 1,860 pounds of venison to St. Vincent De Paul food pantries in Ste. Genevieve and Bloomsdale.
As part of MDC's Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management efforts, after the close of deer season, MDC staff work with landowners in the affected areas on a voluntary basis to cull additional deer within an area of two miles of where recent cases of CWD had been found. This targeted culling effort helps limit the spread of CWD by removing potentially infected deer from the area. After testing results are back, venison harvested from CWD negative deer are either kept by the landowners or donated to Share the Harvest.
The recent meat donation in Perry and Ste. Genevieve counties were from deer that tested negative for CWD during targeted culling efforts in the area. Matt Bowyer, MDC's southeast region wildlife supervisor, said one benefits of this management strategy is the donation of more than 1,860 pounds of venison to local food pantries to feed the hungry in these communities.