NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission heard a preview of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 hunting and trapping seasons at its April meeting Friday. It was a virtual meeting held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic with commissioners and staff members participating remotely.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is recommending that the Unit CWD for deer hunting be expanded to include Crockett, Gibson, and Lauderdale counties. The three counties are classified as CWD High-Risk counties, but they had not yet been added to Unit CWD. The addition of these counties will bring the number to 11 counties in Unit CWD.
The proposal also allows the use of guns in Unit CWD throughout all of deer season, except during the traditional archery-only segment. The Agency is also proposing an unlimited number of earned bucks. The current limit is two.
Regarding spring turkey hunting, the TWRA is recommending a two-week season delay in the five Mississippi River counties of Dyer, Lake, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton and in four southern Middle Tennessee counties to include Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln, and Wayne. The Young Sportsman Hunt would be held the weekend prior to the delayed opener. In the five Mississippi River counties, it was also recommended to reduce the bag limit from four to two. It was proposed to eliminate the fall turkey hunting season in Lincoln County.
Regarding elk, the TWRA is proposing to allow incidental take by licensed deer hunters in non-restoration counties only. There would be a limit of one elk (either sex) per deer season.
Bear hunting proposals included shifts in some hunt segments to minimize conflicts with deer hunters, to hunt during times when the least amount of U.S. Forest Service road closures occur, and to allow rest periods before party-dog hunts. These would not affect the total number of hunting days.
The commission also heard proposals regarding wildlife management areas across the state and the manner and means of hunting. The full proposals will be posted soon on the TWRA website and a public comment period will be open through May 15.
TWRA Fisheries Chief Frank Fiss, presented updates on the current distribution of carp, control measures, and anticipated federal funding. There have been no new reports of Asian carp in East Tennessee reservoirs. To date, the ACHIP program has harvested four million pounds of carp, but contractors need additional support to sustain and grow their markets.
The barrier test at Barkley lock has had several technical issues resulting in no substantial findings recently. On a positive note, TVA is working with TWRA and many other partners to develop a programmatic environmental assessment of potential deterrents at all locks in the Tennessee Valley. This is a critical first step in our process to get barriers on the Tennessee River. TWRA is also participating in a USFWS grant process to get funding for carp control, and TWRA anticipates receiving $1.4 million for projects in 2021.
For those who were unable to view the meeting live, it can be seen on the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org.