Posts Tagged ‘Bear’

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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ALERT: Black bear research in southern Arkansas

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s YouTube channel has a variety of interesting and informative videos. The channel is a way for people to connect with the state’s abundant outdoor opportunities.

The latest video features Arkansas’s black bear population and its expansion into southern Arkansas’s Gulf Coastal Plain. Join AGFC biologists as they perform a bear den survey on one of the first radio-collared bears in this part of The Natural State.

On the AGFC’s YouTube channel, you’ll also find everything from interviews with first time deer hunters, to tailwater trout fishing, to elk viewing in the Boxley Valley, to Mississippi River catfishing as well as the agency’s 100th anniversary tribute “A Century of Conservation.”

Just visit the agency’s YouTube channel and subscribe, so you’re notified whenever a new video is posted.

You’ll also be able to find out about each video as they’re published through AGFC social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. There are several new videos in the works, so don’t forget to keep an eye on all social media outlets for the latest episode.

Click here to visit the AGFC YouTube Channel and subscribe.


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AGFC begins potential land purchase process

LITTLE ROCK – During the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s February meeting, Commissioners approved the first step in the potential development of an education and recreation area near Jasper. Commissioners approved a budget increase of $10,000 for the real estate appraisal and other real estate costs involving the 42-acre site.
The AGFC will apply for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to help pay for the potential purchase of the land. The land was appraised for $277,000 in September 2007. The land is located on Arkansas Highway 7 north of Jasper.

The potential new facility would feature a diverse ecosystem of the area’s unique geography. Plans would include a paved trail, pavilion, fishing piers, wildlife observation blinds, canoe launch areas and other amenities.

During the Commission’s committee meeting reports, the Commission discussed the results of the 2013 AGFC employee morale survey performed by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Va. The survey included specific questions from the 2012 survey so that a direct assessment of trends in employee attitudes could be made. More than 400 employees provided feedback for the project.

Among the significant findings in the survey were:

  • 85% of employees either strongly agree or moderately agree that the overall direction of the agency is benefitting fish and wildlife resources in the state. This rating was 56% in 2012.
  • The percentage of overall satisfaction (very satisfied and somewhat satisfied responses combined) for “morale within the agency” climbed from 15% to 68%.
  • Since 2012, employees are less likely to think that personal and political interests influence the direction of the agency, and are more likely to think that scientific data and field information influence the direction of the agency.
  • The percentage of respondents who rated the agency’s job performance as “excellent” went from 17% in 2012 to 33% in 2013.

AGFC Director Mike Knoedl said that the results were very good, but the agency still has unfinished business. “I have no doubt that 2014 will be a particularly busy year, and we still have an enormous amount of work to do. The Commission hired me to improve the morale of this agency and that is what I am duty bound to do. I want you to know that I never forget what a great honor it is to work for you and to be given this responsibility and I sincerely appreciate the diligent work each of you do every day,” Knoedl said.

Click here for Responsive Management’s news article on the survey: http://www.responsivemanagement.com/.

In other Commission business:

  • Myron Means, AGFC bear program coordinator, gave the Commission an overview of the 2013 bear harvest. During the 2013 bear hunting season, 184 males and 104 females were harvested. Archery hunters harvested 134 of that total, and 192 bears were taken on private land. Madison, Pope and Johnson counties lead the state in number of bears harvested. Means also pointed out that nuisance bear calls answered by the AGFC totaled 64 in 2013. The number of calls spiked at 314 in 2007.
  • Discussed a presentation from AGFC Elk Program Coordinator Wes Wright on the 2013 elk harvest. Wright told the commission that 18 elk were harvested on public land and 22 elk were harvested on private land. The harvest was down from a year ago when a record 44 elk were harvested during the 2012 hunting seasons.
  • The Commission also approved purchase of 98 vehicles at a cost of $2.4 million to replace aging vehicles in the fleet.
  • Approved the second $300,000 payment, of a total $800,000 grant, to The Nature Conservancy for the Cache River Restoration Project. The project is aimed at restoring a portion of the lower Cache in Monroe County to its natural channel.
  • Approved a budget increase of $300,000 to renovate the Central Office in Little Rock.
  • Approved a funding agreement for a new shooting sports facility with the City of Warren. The AGFC agrees to provide just over $312,000 for the construction of the facility.
  • Approved a budget increase of $433,500 from wildlife restoration federal grant funds and a budget transfer of $144,500 from state funds to purchase equipment for Frog Bayou and Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMAs, complete green-tree reservoir assessments on various wildlife management areas and construct a work center on Gene Rush WMA.
  • Honored three wildlife officers for their completion of continuing education at the Criminal Justice Institute. The three officers were James Montgomery, Frank Sigman and William Start.
  • Honored Kirsten Bartlow, of the AGFC Communications Division, for being named the 2013 Arkansas Trails Council Professional of the Year. Bartlow works with various local governments and agencies on construction of wildlife viewing and water trails.

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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission set the state’s deer hunting seasons last week, with modern gun deer season opening Nov. 9, archery season opening Sept. 28, and muzzleloader season opening Oct. 19. The deer season dates are part of the 2013-2014 general hunting regulations approved during the Commission’s monthly meeting.
To see a summary of the 2012-13 hunting regulations, go to: http://www.agfc.com/enforcement/Pages/EnforcementRegulations.aspx.
In other business, the Commission:

  • Approved a strategic plan for the agency that outlines the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s mission, vision and goals, and articulates the Commission’s core values.
  • Reviewed the 2012-2013 deer harvest. AGFC Deer Program Coordinator Cory Gray told Commissioners that hunters checked a record 213,487 deer, an increase of 11 percent from the 2011-2012 deer season.
  • Approved a $40,000 budget transfer to help in the development of the Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area in Benton County.
  • Approved a $96,519 budget increase for an Enforcement Education trailer.
  • Approved a $64,000 budget increase from surplus Recreational Boating funds to purchase patrol boats for the Enforcement Division.
  • Approved clarification of fishing regulations related to trout fishing and commercial turtle harvest restrictions. Language regarding trout waters was inadvertently deleted from previously adopted trout permit requirements, and portions of Randolph County were added to regulations governing turtle harvest.
  • Approved the adoption of the Arkansas Aquatic Nuisance Species Plan. The National Invasive Species Act of 2006 requires all states to have an aquatic nuisance species plan. Arkansas’s plan has been developed by a task force representing state and federal resource management agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private aquaculture interests, civic groups and private individuals.
  • Authorized AGFC Director Mike Knoedl to employ third-party contractors with expertise in oil spill remediation to assist the AGFC in the wake of the Mayflower oil spill.

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People who missed the AGFC's public meetings on Jan. 29 can still offer their comments online.

People who missed the AGFC’s public meetings on Jan. 29 can still offer their comments online.

The annual public meetings concerning the state’s hunting seasons have passed, but there’s still time to send any comments or concerns to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Just visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013-14HuntRegsComments to take a quick online survey.

The following considerations are being surveyed for the 2013-14 season:

  • Change the checking time from 24 to 12 hours for bear, deer and turkey.
  • All cervid carcasses entering the state must follow cervid carcass importation restrictions.  This will include all states, Canadian provinces and countries not currently listed in the code.
  • Implement 12-inch inside spread or 15-inch main beam length antler restriction on Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc, Hope Upland, McIlroy Madison County, Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain and Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMAs.
  • Implement 15-inch inside spread or 18-inch main beam length antler restriction on Dave Donaldson Black River WMA.
  • Change the WMA deer permit process from two drawings to one and extend the payment period from two to four weeks. Permits not paid for will be available for purchase online.
  • Include deer zone 3 in the private lands antlerless only modern gun deer hunt.
  • Modify boundaries of deer zones 11 and 13.
  • Allow the harvest of one doe in deer zone 11 for the entire muzzleloader and modern gun seasons.
  • Prohibit mentors from carrying firearms for their hunting purposes during any youth hunt.
  • Re-instate the bear quota for zone 2 of 150 (125 for October and 25 for November).
  • Move the opening day of bear archery season in bear zone 2 from Sept. 15 to Oct. 1.
  • Allow squirrel hunting with dogs except for the first nine days of modern gun deer season on Ozark National Forest, Piney Creeks and White Rock WMAs.

Written comments also may be mailed by Feb. 28 to the AGFC, Attn: Hunting Regulations Proposals, 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, AR 72205.

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Public input is a crucial component of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s process for setting hunting and fishing regulations. Meetings are part of the AGFC’s annual hunting-regulations process, providing hunters with the opportunity to make comments and proposals on the 2013-14 hunting seasons. The meetings will be held 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Jan. 29, at the following locations:

  • Calico Rock AGFC Regional Office, 1125 Highway 56, Calico Rock, 877-297-4331
  • Fayetteville Ozark Electric Cooperative Corporation,  3641 Wedington Drive, Fayetteville,  866-253-2506
  • Hope AGFC Regional Office,  7004 Highway 67 East, Perrytown,  877-777-5580
  • Jonesboro Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center,  600 East Lawson Road, Jonesboro,  877-972-5438
  • Little Rock AGFC Central Office 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock,  800-364-4263
  • Monticello AGFC Regional Office 771 Jordan Drive, Monticello,  877-367-3559
  • Mount Ida Montgomery County Courthouse 105 Highway 270 East, Mt. Ida,  877-478-1043
  • Russellville AGFC Regional Office 1266 Lock and Dam Road, Russellville, 877-967-7577

Written comments may be submitted at any of the meetings or mailed by Feb. 28 to the AGFC, attn: Hunting Regulations Proposals, 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, AR 72205. There will be a brief presentation starting at 7 p.m. followed by oral comments from the public. After the meeting, AGFC personnel will be available to answer questions.

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Hunters harvested more than 400 bears during the 2011-12 season.

The harvest totals were presented to commissioners of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission during its monthly meeting last week. Bear Program Coordinator Myron Means said the harvest numbers could be attributed to private land hunters using bait. He added that the statewide harvest goal is between 350 and 400 bears each year.

Polk and Scott counties were again the two top counties for bear hunters. In Polk County, 51 bears were harvested, followed by 45 bears in Scott County. Means said that future considerations for bear season may include removing the two-day early modern gun hunt in Bear Zone 2.

“The two-day gun season has been successful in increasing bear harvest for Bear Zone 2. However, it also has increased the female harvest ratio from roughly 35 percent to 50 percent,” Means said. “A 50 percent harvest rate of adult females is not sustainable over the long term,” he warned.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Announced that Jeff Crow has been named the new Chief of Enforcement for the AGFC. Most recently Crow served as the Law Enforcement Management Specialist for the University of Arkansas’s Criminal Justice Institute. Crow replaces Mike Knoedl who was promoted to deputy director.
  • Approved up to $500,000 to fund eight Wildlife Recreation Facilities Pilot Program projects around Arkansas. The money for the projects comes from natural gas lease revenues the AGFC has received.
  • Approved up to $1 million to fund 13 grants through the Wildlife Observation Trails Pilot program. Money for the program also comes from natural gas lease revenues.
  • Heard a proposal for a new code concerning non-liability for wildlife damages.
  • Approved a budget increase of $121,621 to repair the Gurdon Lake Dam spillway. The dam was damaged during flooding in 2010. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the AGFC $118,121 of the total cost.
  • Approved the renaming of an access on Dry Run Creek in Baxter County. The access will be renamed Larry Rider Dry Run Creek Access after the former fisheries employee. Rider was instrumental in establishing Dry Run Creek as a catch-and-release are for youths and mobility-impaired anglers.
  • Approved a budget increase of $115,880 for habitat restoration and stream bank stabilization in the White River basin. The money will come from the Environmental Protection Agency through the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
  • Approved the purchase of 41 vehicles at a cost of $977,234. The vehicles will replace 41 vehicles that have are nearing or exceeded 150,000 miles. Each of the replaced vehicles will be sold and removed from inventory as soon as equipment is transferred to the new vehicles.
  • Approved a budget transfer of $62,800 for improvements at Henry Gray Hurricane Lake and Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek WMAs.
  • Approved a budget increase of $90,000 from an EPA grant to study the Arkansas West Gulf Coastal Plain wetland terraces.
  • Honored Sgt. Floyd Harper with the Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year award. Harper is based in Monticello and patrols southeast Arkansas. Award winners are selected on the basis of their professional relationships with hunters, anglers and landowners in their districts, their job performance and dedication to the wildlife law enforcement profession and participation in activities outside of daily enforcement work.
  • Read a proclamation from Gov. Mike Beebe honoring the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.The WSFR program is the revenue foundation for most fish and wildlife conservation programs. First created on Sept. 2, 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, the program raises funds through a dedicated excise tax on sporting guns and ammunition. In 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted and added to the WSFR program. Through this law, funds are provided for fish conservation and boating and fishing recreational programs in each state through an excise tax placed on certain fishing and boating equipment and fuels.

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