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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will hold special public meetings during March to introduce proposed changes to management practices on many popular wildlife management areas for waterfowl habitat.

The meetings are part of the AGFC’s ongoing effort to keep the public informed about habitat degradation in many wetland areas, particularly artificially flooded bottomland hardwood forests known as greentree reservoirs that produce the finest duck hunting experience in the United States.

“Hunting on greentree reservoirs draws duck hunters from all over the country to The Natural State,” said Luke Naylor, waterfowl program coordinator for the AGFC. “But over decades, those forests have slowly changed, and our management must change with them if we are to continue this great tradition of hunting flooded timber and providing waterfowl with the habitat they need.”

Many hunters have become accustomed to constant high water being available near the opening day of waterfowl season, but according to growing scientific research in Arkansas and other states with greentree reservoirs, the practice has damaged many of the trees that produce the acorns ducks need.

“Flooding before a tree is dormant, and doing so consistently, causes damage,” Naylor said. “And most hunters will tell you there often are plenty of green leaves on the trees during the opening weekend of duck season. We need to begin managing our greentree reservoirs to follow more natural flooding patterns, which typically occur later and fluctuate from year to year.”

The AGFC also has produced a mailing, which describes the situation in detail. It will be delivered to each Arkansas resident who has purchased a waterfowl stamp in the last three years and each non-resident who has purchased a non-resident waterfowl WMA permit in the last three years. A digital version of that mailing is available at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Documents/GTR.pdf.

“There has been a lot of talk lately about many other aspects of duck hunting on Arkansas’s famous public WMAs,” Naylor said. “But this change is much more important. This is to protect and re-establish the habitat that originally drew ducks to these areas. Without that, Arkansas’s famous green timber duck hunting could very well become a thing of the past.”

Public meetings will be held at the following dates and locations:

Stuttgart
6-8 p.m., March 9
Grand Prairie Center, Salon B
2807 Highway 165 South
Stuttgart, AR 72160

Searcy
6-8p.m., March 14
Searcy High School Cafeteria
301 N Ella,
Searcy, AR 72143

Little Rock
6-8 p.m., March 16
AGFC Headquarters Auditorium
2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205

Jonesboro
6-8 p.m., March 28
Nettleton High School Fine Arts Center
4201 Chieftan Lane
Jonesboro, AR 72401

Russellville
6-8 p.m., March 30
Doc Bryan Lecture Hall, Arkansas Tech University
1605 N. Coliseum Drive
Russellville, AR 72801

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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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Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Unclaimed WMA deer permits will be sold online beginning 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Each year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission holds a drawing for the opportunity to hunt certain wildlife management areas to prevent overcrowding and manage the harvest on popular public hunting areas. Applications for the 2015-16 season were were accepted in June and winners are drawn and notified in mid-July. Once drawn, successful applicants had 4 weeks to pay a $10 processing fee for their permit. Then, all unsuccessful applicants were put back into a pool to redraw for unclaimed permits. Hunters who were successful during the second draw were given two weeks to pay $10 for their second-chance permits.

Even with two drawings, there are still a few unclaimed permits available for hunters who were not successful in either drawing and those who failed to apply in time. The AGFC will offer these unclaimed permits on a first-come, first-served basis though an online sale. Each permit costs $10 (the same cost as the original processing fee). There is no limit to the number of extra permits a person may purchase, but permits may only be purchased one-at-a-time. Purchases may only be completed using a credit card. Permits for the 2015-16 deer season will be available online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8, 2015.

Click here for a list of available permits

Click here to purchase a permit beginning 8 a.m., Sept. 8

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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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Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Each year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission holds a drawing for the opportunity to hunt certain wildlife management areas to prevent overcrowding and manage the harvest on our public land.  Applications are accepted in June and winners are drawn and notified in mid-July. Successful applicants are given three weeks to pay a $10 processing fee for their permit. This fee helps offset the cost of the drawing that is conducted by a third-party vendor and helps gain a commitment from permit winners.

Many permits remain unclaimed after the payment period, some of which are available at some of the AGFC’s most popular hunts. The AGFC offers these leftover permits on a first-come, first-served basis though an online sale. Each permit costs $10 (the same cost as the original processing fee). There is no limit to the number of extra permits a person may purchase, but permits may only be purchased one-at-a-time. Purchases may only be completed using a credit card. Permits for the 2014-15 deer season will be available online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8, 2014.

Click here for a list of available permits

Click here to purchase a permit beginning Sept. 8

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