LITTLE ROCK - They didn't beat last year's record, but bear hunters still harvested the second-highest total in the state's history. More than 450 bears were harvested during the 2010-11 season. During the 2009-10 season, hunters harvested a record 530 bears.
The harvest totals were presented to commissioners of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission during its monthly meeting today.
Bear Program Coordinator Myron Means said archery and crossbow hunters took 63 percent of the total harvest. "It was mostly associated with higher harvest on private land and over bait," Means said. "Mast failure caused bears to seek baits more than in other years." Means added that the sex ratio was good and the statewide harvest goal is between 350 and 400 bears each year.
Polk and Scott counties were the two top counties for bear hunters. In Polk County, 40 bears were harvested, followed by 35 bears in Scott County.
Means said that future considerations for bear season may include:
- Implement harvest quota by month for bear zone 1. In 2010, the harvest quota in that zone was reached before modern gun season opened. To provide bear hunting opportunities for gun hunters, a portion of the 200-bear quota may be moved to November.
In other business, the Commission:
- Approved a budget increase of $100,000 for a Boating Infrastructure Grant on behalf of Rockwater Marina. The marina will be on the Arkansas River in North Little Rock. The entire amount of the grant will be reimbursed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Approved a budget increase of $89,789 for a Port Security Grant to purchase two large enforcement boats. The grant comes from the Department of Homeland Security. The two vessels will be on the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers.
- Approved repair and resurfacing of county roads leading to two access points on the Little Red River in White County. The Ramsey Access and Nimmo Access repairs will include asphalt patching and resurfacing. White County has agreed to provide personnel and equipment to complete the repair projects. Money for the two projects comes from the Marine Fuel Tax.
- Accepted the donation of an 8-acre lake in Clay County near Corning. The lake is known as Mom's Lake and contains largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish. The lake will provide anglers with another public fishing opportunity in northeast Arkansas.
- Authorized the AGFC director to begin negotiations on the acquisition of 347 acres adjacent to the Sheffield Nelson Dagmar Wildlife Management Area in Prairie County. Money for the purchase will come from a grant awarded to Ducks Unlimited through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Total cost of the purchase is not to exceed $551,735.