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Preliminary deer harvest numbers second highest on record


LITTLE ROCK – During today’s monthly meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, commissioners were briefed on the state’s recent deer season harvest. Brad Miller, AGFC deer program coordinator, told the commission the harvest was up again from the 2008-09 season.

For the second consecutive year, Arkansas deer hunters harvested almost record numbers of deer in The Natural State. Last year, hunters checked about 185,000 deer. For the 2009-10 season, the preliminary harvest total increased to 187,000 deer. The record deer harvest in Arkansas was 195,000 deer checked in 1999, the most in a single year since the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began keeping records in 1938.

The largest increase came in the doe harvest where hunters took over 83,400 female deer. That number was over 11.4 percent higher than last year. The buck harvest was down about 5 percent.

Miller made note that shifting from paper checksheets to Internet and telephone checking improved data quality. “We had a 98 percent decrease in the number of deer checked without stating the sex of the deer,” Miller said. That number dropped from 1,758 to just 32 deer this season. “And we think we can eventually drop that number to zero,” Miller added.

In other business, the commission:

*Agreed to an amendment to the memorandum of agreement with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on funding inspection and monitoring of natural gas drilling and production.

*Approved the donation of a 3,800-foot conservation easement on the North Fork River. The conservation easement is located immediately downstream from the Bill Ackerman River Ridge Walk-In Access.

*Approved an increase on range fees at the Dr. James E. Moore Jr. Camp Robinson Firing Range in Mayflower. The user fees will now be $4 per round for trap and skeet, $3 per day for the rifle and pistol range, and $2 per day for spotting scope rental.

*Approved a proclamation by Gov. Mike Beebe to start free fishing weekend at noon, June 11 and end at midnight, June 13. Licenses will not be required for fishing in Arkansas during that period.

*Approved a budget increase of $10,473,835 from FEMA relating to the extensive flooding and ice storm damage. The money is being used to clean up and repair the state’s wildlife management areas that were damaged in recent years.

*Approved a budget adjustment of $29,700 to be used toward the Avian Influenza Monitoring Project. The money will be used to purchase 10 new ATVs.

*Approved a budget increase of $100,000 for the repair of the popular West Memphis City Pond.  The City of West Memphis has committed $150,000 in cash and in-kind services to repair the pond levees and walkways.