LITTLE ROCK – At today’s monthly meeting in Little Rock, commissioners for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission passed a resolution to support watchable wildlife activities on selected wildlife management areas.
AGFC Commission Chairman Craig Campbell, said he wanted to make it clear that these activities would not hinder Arkansas sportsmen. “This resolution will not interfere with the activities of hunters and anglers,” Campbell said.
Arkansas Speaker of the House Robert Moore of Arkansas City was in attendance and spoke in favor of the resolution.
“I want to commend you on your efforts in this resolution today to embrace the utilization of your WMAs so that all Arkansans have maximum access for passive recreational activity,” Moore said. “I applaud you for this effort today and I look forward to working with you in implementation of this public policy.”
Rep. Clark Hall of Marvell also spoke in support of the resolution. Hall is the chairman of State Agencies and Governmental Affairs in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Hall praised the agency’s new director, Loren Hitchcock.
“I would like to commend the commissioners for their appointment of your new director. He’s done a magnificent job in representing this agency.”
Hall went on to commend the agency’s enforcement division. “Your officers in the field are a great professional force. They represent you well.”
The Commission also was presented with proposals for the 2011-12 hunting seasons. Commissioners will study the proposals and make a final decision at their April meeting.
AGFC Chief of Wildlife David Goad presented the proposed changes to the Commission. “We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about the regulations for the upcoming season,” Goad said.
Several changes are proposed for the 2011-12 hunting season. A quick rundown of a few of the proposed changes:
Raising the statewide bag limit from five deer to six deer with no more than two bucks.
Allowing deer hunting over bait during all of February.
Eliminating the use of preference points for the 2013-14 deer hunting season and using a random drawing to select applicants for deer permit hunts.
Changing the opening day of archery deer season for the 2012-13 season to an annual start date of the third Saturday of September.
Maintaining the seasonal quota of 200 bears for zone 1. The proposal calls for the quota not to exceed 165 bears in October. If approved, bear season would close any time during October if the 165 bear quota has been reached.
No shooting of radio-collared bears.
Change the private landowner elk tag from cow tags and a drawing for a set number of bulls, to either-sex tags for all landowners, while retaining a quota.
Allowing the take of raccoons, opossums or squirrels throughout the year without a Depredation Permit if the animals are causing damage on private property.
Proposed season dates for the 2011-12 deer hunting season:
Archery – All zones: Oct. 1-Feb. 29.
Modern Gun - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 12-Dec. 4.
Zone 4: Nov. 12-13.
Zone 5: Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 19-20.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 12-Dec. 11.
Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 12-20.
Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 12-Dec. 18.
Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 12-Dec. 25.
Muzzleloader - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15: Oct. 22-30 and Dec. 17-19.
Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 22-30 and Dec. 29-31.
Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed.
The statewide Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt is proposed for Dec. 26-28. Two special youth modern gun deer hunts are proposed. The first would be Nov. 5-6 and the second Jan. 7-8, 2012. A proposed doe only modern gun deer hunt would be held in zones 6A, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17 Oct. 31-Nov. 4.
In other business, the Commission:
Agreed to a budget increase of $85,000 for legal expenses. The increase is needed to fund the Commission’s anticipated costs related to several legal cases during the next several months.
Agreed to a release of five acres in Craighead County. The land originally was leased as a potential site for the AGFC Northeast Arkansas Regional Office. During the site selection process, the AGFC chose a better location near the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro.
Agreed to purchase a conservation easement on the 1,500-acre Buck Island property on the Mississippi River in Phillips County. The easement will cost $350,000. The appraised value was $471,000. The land is owned by the American Land Conservancy. The ALC will convey all of the hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing rights to the AGFC.
Approved the use of $95,000 of Marine Fuel Tax money for a boating access on the White River in Washington County at the Arkansas Highway 74 bridge.
Approved a budget increase of $28,975 from an insurance settlement to pay for storm damage at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery at Mammoth Spring.
Approved a budget increase of $45,000 for consulting services and professional fees. Of that amount, $25,000 will be used to assist with pending communications issues and the remaining $20,000 will go toward an audit of the agency’s magazine.