March 4, 2022
Keith Stephens Chief of Communications
MANILA– Big Lake Wildlife Management Area and Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge will be closed to daytime public access March 6-12. The following week, the U of A Pine Tree Wildlife Management Area will be closed March 13-19. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, in cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, will be conducting aerial operations aimed at reducing feral hog populations in the areas. The flights will be dependent on the weather.
To provide safety for the public and comply with USDA regulations, access will not be allowed during the ongoing operations. Varying weather and site specific conditions will not allow for specific dates of the closures. The closure dates do allow some flexibility to take advantage of resources over large contiguous tracts of habitat.
In the event that access to the areas are restricted, AGFC and partnering agency staff will be on-site to maintain road and access closures, according to AGFC Director Austin Booth. “It’s an inconvenience to those who use the areas, but feral hogs are a huge threat to both wildlife and agriculture in Arkansas. They damage habitat, they prey on wildlife and can be linked to disease transmission,” Booth explained.
The aerial operations are the result of planning and coordination of multiple partners, condensed into several days of actual operations. The AGFC and USDA APHIS would like to thank the public in advance for their patience and understanding while these activities are underway and apologize for any inconvenience related to the operation.
For additional information, please contact AGFC Feral Hog Coordinator, Ryan Farney at 501-223-6471 or Arkansas APHIS Director Robert Byrd at 501-835-2318.