Aug. 16, 2018
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK – Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission proposed an amendment to waterfowl hunting regulations today to specify when non-residents can hunt waterfowl on wildlife management areas to specific blocks of dates.
If passed, the proposal would let non-residents hunt waterfowl on WMAs Nov. 17-25, 2018; Dec. 26, 2018-Jan. 6, 2019, and Jan. 19-27, 2019.
Nonresidents still would be required to purchase a 5-day non-resident waterfowl permit, but they would be able to purchase as many permits as they wish to ensure they were able to hunt 30 days during Arkansas’s waterfowl season.
Commissioner Andrew Parker of Little Rock voiced the proposal.
“Since the last duck season, members of this body have repeatedly heard from Arkansas sportsmen and women that it was a step in the right direction but the pressures from overcrowding on those WMAs still exist, especially on our most popular WMAs,” Parker said. “The point of doing this is an effort to try and look for any possible way to avoid having to go to some kind of a draw system, which is something we don’t want to do.”
Commissioners proposed the amendment at today’s meeting to allow time for public comment and consideration before a final vote in time to make any needed changes to the 2019 Arkansas Waterfowl Guidebook, scheduled to be published in mid-October.
The Commission will take public comments about the proposal for the next 30 days before voting at the Sept. 20 Commission meeting in Fort Smith.
Commissioners also approved a grant of $768,705 to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services to be used to fund education grants throughout the state. The money, collected from wildlife fines, will be available to teachers and educators for conservation education purposes, such as field trips to nature centers, expenses to participate in shooting sports programs and equipment for conservation-focused studies.
“The fine money we get goes back into the schools in the county where the fine originated,” said Commission Chairman Ford Overton. “We don’t just put that in the general fund and use it to buy boats; it goes right back into the school system. I encourage putting that money toward getting hunter education back into the school system.”
Commissioners also passed fishing regulations changes for 2019.
A list of regulations changes is available at www.agfc.com/en/resources/regulations/code/. These regulations were submitted for public comment May 1-31, were formally proposed for consideration at the Commission’s July meeting and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.
The Commission also voted to formally deny a petition to repeal the temporary suspension on issuing any new permits for the importation and sale of non-native venomous species.
An additional petition to ban the commercial harvest of turtles in the state was tabled during committee to be looked at further and presented again at a future meeting.
In other business, the Commission:
- Recognized J.D. Crawford, a volunteer hunter education instructor for his recent award from the International Hunter Education Association. Crawford’s efforts in promoting and teaching hunting safety have resulted in more than 1,200 individuals attaining their Hunter Education certification.
- Heard from Arkansas hunters Alan, Spencer and Tucker Peek as they presented an example of three generations passing down the hunting tradition.
- Heard from Arkansas hunter Chad Murray about his experience in being introduced to the outdoors late in life.
- Heard from Wildlife Officer Shad Pearce and the AGFC’s Hunt Natural mentored hunting program.
- Recognized Thurman Booth, state coordinator of USDA Wildlife Services to speak about their continued partnership with the AGFC.
- Authorized Director Pat Fitts to enter into a 3-year agreement with the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation to continue its partnership to promote hunting and fishing in The Natural State.
- Officially designated a 436-acre tract of land 3 miles east of Tuckerman in Jackson County as Village Creek Wildlife Management Area, and proposed seasons for the WMA for the 2018-19 hunting year.
- Granted a surplus boat, motor and trailer to the Saline County Sheriff's Office to help them in enforcement and search-and-rescue operations.
- Approved the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with an original cost of $226,239 and a current net book value of $9,250.