LITTLE ROCK – Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission received a briefing on the public response from hunting regulations the agency proposed. The AGFC provided an online survey this year for public input. More than 6,000 people responded to the survey.
Dating back to 1998, just over 7,000 people attended the agency’s general hunting, turkey and waterfowl public meetings combined. AFGC Commissioner Fred Brown said the amount and quality of the information was much superior to the previous format. “If we have a hot-button item, we will have a public meeting, but it’s obvious we are getting more and better information utilizing an online survey,” Brown said.
Some of the proposals being considered for the 2014-15 season are:
*Adding a doe to the firearms bag limit in Deer Zones 2, 3, 6, 6A, 8, 8A and 10.
*Allowing captive wildlife, excluding cervids, which originate within Arkansas and leave the state for less than 30 days, to re-enter the state without the need for a veterinary examination.
*Allowing AGFC to immediately relocate wildlife being given improper care by rehabilitators, such as being kept in inhumane or in unhealthy conditions. Prohibit possession of native wildlife pets by rehabilitators except under certain conditions.
*Increasing the raccoon hunting bag limit to unlimited for the entire season for public and private lands.
*Adding a deer modern gun (restricted to shotgun/muzzleloader) permit hunt (10 permits) from Nov. 8-12, 2014 with a two deer limit; one buck (3-point rule applies) and one doe on Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA.
*Moving the deer modern gun youth permit hunt to the weekend before the statewide November youth hunt (Oct. 25-26, 2014) on Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA.
*Making it illegal to discharge or possess fireworks on Commission-owned or controlled property.
*Establishing turkey permit hunts (three weekends) on Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA.
*Establishing turkey permit hunts (three weekends) on Galla Creek WMA.
*Establishing a five day muzzleloader deer permit hunt for Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA.
*Changing the minimum antler criteria on Lafayette County WMA from the Four-Point rule to a 12-inch inside spread or 15-inch main beam rule.
*Moving the modern gun deer hunt a week later (Nov. 1-5) on Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA.
*Adding Lake Greeson (excluding mobility impaired hunters hunting during the mobility-impaired permit hunt) and Howard County WMAs into the leased land permit system requiring a leased land permit ($40).
*Removing the hunter education requirement for youth hunters 6-15 years of age participating in WMA permit hunts.
*Allowing the harvest of feral hogs only during bear, deer and elk firearms seasons on certain WMAs to allow some taking of nuisance feral hogs without promoting the recreational hunting of feral hogs on Commission-controlled property.
*Prohibiting the harvest of feral hogs at any time on certain WMAs where feral hog populations do not currently exist.
*Closing all hunting seasons from Jan. 5-March 31, 2015, and prohibit horses and mules from Feb. 1- March 31, 2015 on Harold E. Alexander Spring River WMA to conduct intensive feral hog trapping efforts.
The Commission will vote on the hunting regulation proposals at its April 17 meeting.
In other business, the Commission:
*Approved a request, from the AGFC Enforcement Division, to apply for a $4.9 million Port Security Grant from the Department of Homeland Security. If accepted, the grant will go towards upgrading the AGFC’s radio infrastructure, purchase of new radios and the purchase of search and rescue equipment. The AGFC would be required to provide a 25% match that could be paid out over three years.
*Approved the agency’s Strategic Furbearer Management Plan.
*Honored the staff of the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center for receiving the 2013 Outstanding Interpretive Special Event Award and the 2013 Community Interpretive Service Award.