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Commission passes nonresident waterfowl permit changes effective 2019-20 season

BY Randy Zellers

ON 09-20-2018


Sept. 20, 2018

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

FORT SMITH – Commissioners voted to amend nonresident waterfowl permits to be valid only during certain portions of the duck season at today’s regularly scheduled Commission meeting at the Temple Live Event Center in Fort Smith. The change, however, will not go into effect until the 2019-20 waterfowl season.

According to the new regulation, nonresidents will be able to hunt waterfowl on certain Arkansas WMAs only during the first nine days of the first segment of waterfowl season, the first 12 days of the third segment of the season and the last nine days of the third segment of the season, beginning in the 2019-20 season. The 2018-19 season still will follow the same framework as last year, with nonresidents allowed to hunt ducks on certain WMAs any time during an open waterfowl season, but being limited to a maximum of six 5-day permits.

The proposal to regulate certain dates in which the permits are valid was introduced by Commissioners during the Commission’s August meeting. The proposal was a response to public comments about crowded conditions at some of Arkansas’s most popular public duck hunting areas.

“This isn’t about us versus them,” said Commissioner Stan Jones of Walnut Ridge. “It’s about maintaining the quality of the hunt. Right now there’s a hunter behind every tree.The nonresidents may even see where residents decide not to show up to those most popular places during those days because they know there will be crowds and choose to go elsewhere.”

A public survey to gather comments from residents and nonresidents has been available at and was widely publicized during the last month. Nearly 5,000 people completed the survey.

Four members of the public also addressed the commission at today’s meeting. They presented different potential impacts from the regulation change.

AGFC Director Pat Fitts said the vast majority of residents were in strong support of the proposal, but he suggested the delay to be fair to nonresidents who already had made plans for the coming season.

“We have residents who pay into the Conservation Sales Tax who deserve to have some preference just like some other states do for some species,” Fitts said. “But we also want to give staff the opportunity to make the changes in permits to do this right.”

Commissioner Bobby Martin of Rogers spoke against the proposal, offering that changes made last year may have already resolved any overcrowding issues.

“The number of nonresident WMA waterfowl permits issued dropped 42 percent last year,” Martin said. “We can’t seem to figure out a way to get sportsmen to come alongside, work with our staff and really do what they do best … the collective good in sportsmen and women will always do more for the betterment and enjoyment of duck hunting than a library full of regulations that we could ever write.”

Commissioners also heard the first reading of proposed changes to the Commission’s captive wildlife regulations, including those relating to permitting of medically significant venomous reptiles . The list of regulation-change proposals submitted to Commissioners is available at The Commission is expected to vote on these changes at its Oct. 18 meeting. If approved, they will allow individuals and businesses until January 1, 2020, to submit applications for the proper permits to possess, breed or sell regulated animals.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Voted to increase the statewide bag limit on northern pintail ducks from one per day to two per day to align with the bag limit for the Mississippi Flyway set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Formally added 436-acre Village Creek Wildlife Management Area in Jackson County to the AGFC’s WMA system.
  • Gave Director Pat Fitts approval to enter into an agreement to resolve a property encroachment on Harris Brake Lake from a neighboring landowner.
  • Heard the first reading of a proposed regulation change to allow an increased permit length from 1 to 3 years for boat docks on Commission-owned lakes.
  • Recognized Rick Young, vice president of operations for Pheasants Forever, for an update on the progress of cooperative Quail Forever work in Arkansas.
  • Recognized Lt. Col. Darrell Martin and other staff at Ft. Chaffee with a special partnership award for their outstanding work to enhance wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities at the military facility.
  • Recognized Stacey Clark and Wes Wright from the AGFC’s wildlife management division for the work they and other staff have done on Bearcat Hollow WMA, which recently earned a special conservation partnership award from the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.
  • Heard an update from Marlis Douglas, Ph.D., about ongoing CWD and Arkansas white-tailed deer research.

A video of the meeting is available at


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