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Commission considers Arkansas hunting season proposals


LITTLE ROCK – At today’s monthly meeting in Little Rock, commissioners for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission were presented with proposals for the 2010-11 hunting seasons. The commission will study the proposals and make a final decision at its April meeting.

Several items that had been proposed and presented to the public were removed from the list after public comments were received. One item that generated the most response was a proposal to restrict baiting or feeding wildlife on public or private lands from March 1-Aug. 1, with the exception of high fence enclosures and backyard wildlife viewing. That proposal was removed from the list of suggested regulations for 2010-11. AGFC chief of wildlife David Goad said that his division will spend the next year researching, educating our employees and the public on the effects of feeding and baiting on wildlife, in particular ground nesting birds. “We’ve got some work to do on this,” Goad added.

Another proposed regulation removed from the list was a requirement to display hunter orange on all sides of ground blinds during deer modern gun and muzzleloader seasons. “We feel it’s best to remove this item until the public has a better understanding of this issue. We will work on this during the next year,” Goad said.

Goad also made a point to clarify the spring turkey bag limits. The season bag limit may include no more than two legal turkeys (one of which may be a jake) on Arkansas land located west of the Mississippi River. In zones 17A and 17B, which includes Arkansas land located east of the Mississippi River, hunters must follow the bag limits of the adjoining state. In Zone 17A, which is Arkansas land east of the Mississippi River in Tennessee, hunters may take four bearded turkeys (bearded hens and jakes are allowed). In Zone 17B, which is Arkansas land east of the Mississippi River in Mississippi, hunters may take three adult gobblers or gobblers with at least a 6-inch beard, but no bearded hens. Goad said hunters may not exceed any zone harvest limits or kill more than four turkeys in the state. “As an example, if you kill your two turkeys in Arkansas west of the Mississippi River, then you want to hunt in 17A, you can only kill an additional two turkeys. Not four more turkeys in Zone 17A. The same example is true for the three turkey limit in Zone 17B,” Goad explained.

Proposed season dates for the 2010-11 deer hunting season:

Archery – All zones:  Oct. 1 to Feb. 28.
Modern Gun - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11:  Nov. 13-Dec. 5. 
Zone 4:  Nov. 13-14. 
Zone 5:  Nov. 13-14 and Nov. 20-21.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15:  Nov. 13-Dec. 12.
Zones 4B and 5B:  Nov. 13-21.
Zones 9, 12 and 13:  Nov. 13-Dec. 19.
Zone 16, 16A and 17:  Nov. 13-Dec. 24. 
Muzzleloader  -  Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15:  Oct.16-24 and Dec. 18-20. 
Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 16-24 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 with two special youth modern gun deer hunts proposed. The first would be Nov. 6-7 with the second Jan. 1-2, 2011.

In other business, the commission:

*Agreed to close all caves on AGFC lands and Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Natural Area WMAs to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome in bats. The agency owns at least 83 caves on four WMAs in Arkansas. The four AGFC areas that have caves on them are McIlroy Madison County, Gene Rush, Loafer’s Glory and Harold E. Alexander WMAs.

*Heard a report from hunter education coordinator Joe Huggins on the 2008-09 hunting season’s record low number of hunting accidents. Huggins told the commission that only 12 accidents were reported. That’s the lowest number since hunter education began in 1971.