PONCA – The recent shutdown of the federal government has caused some problems with next week’s elk hunt. The first elk season is scheduled for Oct. 7-11 with eight hunters looking for a prize elk.
The problem is two of the hunters in elk zone 1 are hunting on land that is completely within the Buffalo National River. The BNR is closed to all activities and will not reopen until there is a resolution in Washington, D.C.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Elk Program Coordinator Wes Wright said that elk zone 1 lies entirely within the BNR boundary and includes no other state or federal land open to hunting. “There are two hunters in zone 1. One either-sex and one antlerless permit. These hunters have been notified about the zone closure and may be postponed until next year’s hunt,” Wright explained. “If there is a resolution reached over the weekend they are on standby to go hunting next week. If not, these two hunters will be allowed to come back next year and hunt the same zone and dates.”
Elk zone 2 is primarily state-owned property within the boundary of Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area. There are two hunters in zone 2, one either-sex and one antlerless permit. These hunters will not be affected since they will be hunting on state-owned property. The portion of the BNR that lies adjacent to Gene Rush WMA that is within elk zone 2 will be closed.
Elk zone 3 has a large portion of BNR land that will be closed to hunting. The Richland Valley Sonny Varnell Elk Conservation Area will be open to hunting since it is state-owned property. There are two hunters permitted for zone 3, one either-sex and one antlerless permit. These hunters will have to stay on state-owned property within the elk conservation area.
Elk zone 4 is within the boundary of the Ozark National Forest and will be open to hunting. There are two hunters in zone 4, one either-sex and one antlerless permit. These hunters will not be affected by the public land closures.