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LITTLE ROCK – Commissioners unanimously approved a group of regulations today, effectively setting the season dates and bag limits for the 2018-19 hunting season for all species. The 2018-2019 Arkansas Season Dates are:

Deer

Archery:
Zones 1,1A, 2 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17 – Sept. 22, 2018-Feb. 28, 2019.

Muzzleloader:
Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11 – Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 8-10, 2018.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14, and 15 – Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 15-17, 2018.
Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17 – Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 29-31, 2018.

Modern Gun:
Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11 – Nov. 10-Dec. 2 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zone 4 – Nov. 10-11 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zone 5 – Nov. 10-11, Nov. 17-18 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15 – Nov. 10-Dec. 9 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 10-18 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 9, 12 and 13 – Nov. 10-Dec. 16 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 16, 16A and 17 – Nov. 10-Dec. 28, 2018.

Private Land Antlerless Only Modern Gun Deer Hunt:
Statewide on all private land – Oct. 13-17, 2018.

Special Youth Modern Gun Deer Hunt:
Statewide – Nov. 3-4, 2018 and Jan. 5-6, 2019

Waterfowl

Early Teal Season:
Statewide – Sept. 15-30, 2018.

Early Canada Goose:
Statewide Sept. 1-30, 2018.

Duck, Coot and Merganser:
Nov. 17-25, Dec. 6-23 and Dec. 26, 2018-Jan. 27, 2019.

Canada, White-fronted, Snow, Blue and Ross’s Goose:
Oct. 27-29, Nov. 17-30, Dec. 2, 2018-Jan. 27, 2019.

Special Youth Waterfowl Hunt:
Dec. 1, 2018 and Feb. 2, 2019.

Bear

Archery:
Zones 1 and 2 – Sept. 22-Nov. 30, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7 – closed

Muzzleloader:
Zones 1 and 2 – Oct. 20-28, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7 – closed

Modern Gun:
Zones 1 and 2 – Nov. 10-30, 2018.
Zone 5 – Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2018.
Zone 5A – Nov. 17-Dec. 2, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 6 and 7 – closed

Special Youth Modern Gun Bear Hunt:
Zones 1 and 2 – Nov. 3-4, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7 – closed.

Mourning, White-Winged and Eurasian Collared Dove

Statewide – Sept. 1-Oct. 28 and Dec. 8, 2018-Jan. 15, 2019.

Wild Turkey

Zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17 – April 8-23, 2019.
Zones 1A, 4, 4A, 5A and 9A – April 8-16, 2019.

Special Youth Turkey Hunt:
Statewide (except WMAs): April 6-7, 2019.

In addition to season dates, many regulations were changed to offer more access and opportunity to hunters for 2018-19. Air rifles are now legal to hunt deer during modern gun deer season, as long as they fire a single, expandable projectile .40-caliber or larger, are powered by an external pump or tank and produce at least 400 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

“We have really worked hard to simplify and liberalize regulations as we can to make hunting less intimidating and allow people to focus on what’s important when they’re out in the woods,” said AGFC Director Pat Fitts.

Waterfowl hunters on wildlife management areas again will have an extra hour after shooting time ends at noon to be off inundated waters, in response to massive public support. Also the daily bag limits for all WMAs will match the statewide bag limit of six ducks.

Many changes also have liberalized seasons or limits on individual WMAs during deer season, and the process to apply for a private land elk permit has been simplified to run through the same online system as other drawn permits. The alligator hunt tagging and checking process also saw some major streamlining, and Alligator Zone 2, comprising south-central Arkansas, will be opened for the first time this year. A complete list of changes and justifications for those changes is available at https://www.agfc.com/en/resources/regulations/code.

Andy Goodman, chief legislative aide for Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office, read a proclamation signed by Hutchinson declaring the time period from noon, June 8 until midnight June 10 as Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas. During this time, all license and permit requirements to fish in the state are lifted, allowing anyone to get out and enjoy fishing without the purchase of a license or trout permit. All other fishing regulations, including bag limits and size requirements for certain bodies of water are still in effect during Free Fishing Weekend. Information on fishing regulations are available in a current Arkansas Fishing Guidebook.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Signed a memorandum of agreement with the Arkansas Department of Transportation to bring 640 acres of ARDOT wetland mitigation property into the AGFC’s system of wildlife management areas to open access to public hunting.
  • Accepted a land donation of 7 acres of waterfront property upstream from Rim Shoals from Hugh McClain of Mountain Home.
  • Approved the purchase of 0.68 acres near Winkley Shoals on the Little Red River for a future public fishing access.
  • Approved the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with an original cost of $575,940 and a current net book value of $52,966.
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04112018bears

LITTLE ROCK – This summer, researchers from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the University of Arkansas at Monticello will attempt to determine whether bear zone 4, in the Gulf Coastal Plain of southern Arkansas, will join the state’s four bear zones open for hunting.

“What we hope to see from this information is whether there’s a sustainable population,” said Myron Means, AGFC Large Carnivore Program coordinator. “If it is, we’ll proceed with a hunt.”

For a six-week period beginning July 1, researchers will set up “hair traps” to figure out population densities of bears. The traps are rings of barbed wire around trees, which are baited. As bears investigate the bait, they rub against the barbed wire, which snags hairs. The hairs then can be analyzed and DNA tested to determine how many bears visited each bait site. From there, biologists can estimate total populations in the area.

Unlike the Ouachitas and Ozarks, much of the land in southern Arkansas is privately owned, which makes research more difficult. While many hunters in the Gulf Coastal Plain have turned in images of destroyed feeders or bears during the last few years, biologists are looking for more sites to document reproducing populations of bears to monitor and expand the hunting season. Any landowners in bear zone 4 who capture videos or photos of bears with cubs this spring are asked to contact the AGFC’s Camden Regional Office, 877-836-4612. Biologists hope to increase the number of collared bears for research in the area to further justify the need for a hunting season.

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Arkansas hunters harvested 393 bears in 2015. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Black Bear Association.

Arkansas hunters harvested 393 bears in 2015. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Black Bear Association.

The results of the 2015 Arkansas bear season were presented to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission by Myron Means, large carnivore program coordinator at the Jan. 21, 2016 meeting of the AGFC.

According to Means, hunters killed 393 bears during 2015. Hunters harvested 256 male bears and 137 female bears statewide. Archery hunters accounted for 77 percent of the harvest, which is typical of bear hunting in Arkansas.

“Reproduction and cub survival were normal in the Ozarks, Ouachitas and Delta,” Means said. “However, we do have a relatively small sample size in the Delta, so that should be taken into consideration.”

James Small with a 2015 Arkansas black bear. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Black Bear Association.

James Small with a 2015 Arkansas black bear. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Black Bear Association.

Commission Chairman Emon Mahony and Director Mike Knoedl both inquired about increased bear sightings in south Arkansas and the feasibility of opening a bear season in the Gulf Coastal Plain. Means says there is a research project proposal in place to estimate the true population in that region, which will determine the validity of such a season.

“We know we have bears across that region of the state, and we try to document reports as best we can, but the reports we get come in as clusters,” Means said. “Sometimes one bear can visit multiple deer clubs, so the perception is that we have 50 bears when in reality we only have two or three. The research project should help us get the numbers on growth rates and density we need.”

Means does expect to have a bear season in the Gulf Coastal Plain one day, if the research justifies the need. He warns that it would be an extremely conservative season.

“Bears harvested in that area will likely be on private land and on bait sites,” Means said. “Any time you have that scenario, you run the risk of killing too many the first day and eliminating the population in that area.”

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