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Posts Tagged ‘regulation’

Deer in Field

Commission sets 2014-15 deer seasons

Deer season dates for the 2014-15 deer hunting season were set at the April 17, 2014 meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, held in Little Rock:

Archery

  • All zones: Sept. 27-Feb. 28, 2015.

Private Land Antlerless-Only  Modern Gun Hunt

  • Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 11-15.

Muzzleloader

  • Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15: Oct. 18-26 and Dec. 13-15.
  • Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 18-26 and Dec. 29-31.
  • Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed.

Youth Modern Gun Deer Hunts

  • All zones: Nov. 1-2 and Jan. 3-4, 2015.

Modern Gun

  • Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 8-30 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zone 4: Nov. 8-9 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zone 5: Nov. 8-9, Nov. 15-16 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 8-Dec. 7 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 8-16 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 8-Dec. 14 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 8-Dec. 28.

The commission also approved the harvest of feral hogs only during bear, deer and elk firearms seasons on certain WMAs. The regulation permits some taking of nuisance feral hogs, without promoting the recreational hunting of feral hogs, on Commission-controlled property.
In other business, the Commission:

  • Authorized AGFC Director Mike Knoedl, on behalf of the AGFC, to enter into an agreement to purchase 42 acres on Highway 7 near Jasper. Purchase price of the property is $250,000. The purchase will go forward after an appraisal and review, environmental analysis, survey, title commitment and other due diligence.
  • Discussed the Cane Creek Lake and Lake Chicot drawdowns and the daily creel limits on the two fisheries.
  • Authorized AGFC Director Mike Knoedl, on behalf of the AGFC, to enter into an agreement to purchase 959 acres adjacent to the Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms Wildlife Management Area near Georgetown in White County. Purchase price of the property is $1.8 million. The purchase will go forward after an appraisal and review, environmental analysis, survey, title commitment and other due diligence. The AGFC has secured $1 million through a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to begin the acquisition and has a second NAWCA grant in review that would provide the balance of the anticipated purchase price.
  • Reviewed the 2013-14 deer harvest. AGFC Deer Program Coordinator Cory Gray told Commissioners that hunters checked 213,199 deer. The harvest is the second highest on record behind the 2012-13 record of 213,487 deer. Compared to last season, the buck harvest decreased slightly from 110,448 to 105,952 while the doe harvest increased from 103,039 to 107,247.
  • Agreed to execute a quitclaim deed on a 5.72-acre tract of the Gene Rush Buffalo River WMA in Searcy County. A land survey and title search revealed a claim of ownership by Kathryn Rogers superior to AGFC’s interest. The AGFC will quitclaim the land to Rogers. The agency’s title insurance will reimburse the AGFC $2,000 per acre for the loss of the acreage.
  • Honored 35 AGFC employees for their years of service to the agency. The group represented 430 years of experience.
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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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Don't forget to tag that trophy this weekend.

Don’t forget to tag that trophy this weekend.

What is the one piece of equipment more hunters will forget this opening weekend than any other? It’s not their rifle, treestand, safety harness or hunter orange, but it’s just as important for hunters who successfully score a deer.

It’s an ink pen.

According to Arkansas law, all deer must be tagged with a deer tag provided on the hunter’s license, and that tag must be completed legibly in ink and attached to the ear or antler of the deer BEFORE you move the animal. Not when you get it to the truck or after you’ve field dressed it.

Also be sure to check-in your harvest within 24 hours of harvest by using the AGFC app, website or Telecheck number (1-866-305-0808). After you check the deer, you’ll be given an check number to put on the tag as well.

If you quarter the deer in the woods or at camp or otherwise remove the head, the tag stays with the head and you need to make duplicate tags (called carcass identification tags on Page 28 of the 2013-14 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook) to identify all other portions of your deer while bringing it to the processor or your home.

Good luck out there this weekend. Everyone at the AGFC wishes you a safe, successful deer hunting season. Bring a pen and don’t forget to write.

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Antler restrictions may be changed on 16 WMAs this year.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Wildlife Management Division is exploring antler restriction changes for several wildlife management areas and three deer zones. These antler restriction proposals are directly tied to habitat quality and harvest objectives. Wildlife management division personnel have selected 16 WMAs scattered across the state that have excellent deer management potential. They will be managed as areas where hunters can go and have a good chance of taking a really nice deer.

A few of the WMAs on the list, like Moro Big Pine Natural Area, Rick Evans Grandview Prairie and Freddie Black Choctaw Island, have already been used as pilot areas for this process, and the regulations have proven to be very successful. Bayou Meto, Cut-off Creek, Ed Gordon Point Remove, Henry Gray Hurricane Lake, Sheffield Nelson Dagmar, St. Francis National Forest, Trusten Holder, Mike Freeze Wattensaw and Harold E. Alexander WMAs would be affected by the proposed regulations. These WMAs have been under three different antler restrictions: three-point rule, four-by-four slot and a four-point rule or 18-inch main beam over the past several years.

The three-point rule has been largely successful in protecting 1½-year-old bucks, according to Dick Baxter, AGFC’s deer program coordinator. “Prior to implementation of the three-point rule during the 1998-99 season, approximately 85 percent of the state’s annual buck harvest was composed of 1½-year-old bucks, but this percent was drastically reduced and  currently makes up 10 percent of the overall buck harvest. The three-point rule has helped us achieve a more balanced buck segment by increasing buck carryover,” he said.

The four-by-four slot rule was implemented several years ago to provide increased flexibility from the three-point rule while still maintaining some sort of restriction on the overall buck harvest. Data collected from these areas proved that the management strategy protected fewer bucks than the three-point rule, and led to an annual buck harvest composed of 50 percent 1½-year-old bucks and 50 percent 2½-year-old or older bucks.

The four-point or 18-inch main beam rule protects a very high percentage of 1½-year-old bucks and shifts harvest pressure to the 2½-year-old and older age-class bucks.

The next step in improving buck-age structure on these WMAs is a combination of main beam length and inside spread regulations, Baxter said. “Based on data collected from thousands of bucks, inside spread and main beam length are much more correlated to buck age than point restrictions,” he says. Additionally, main beam and inside spread regulations protect more younger-age-class bucks, improve age structure within the buck segment of the population, and improve the buck-to-doe ratio.

Additionally, wildlife management staff have proposed to eliminate antler restrictions on Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA and U of A Pine Tree Experimental Station Wildlife Demonstration Area. Rex Hancock Black Swamp is virtually surrounded by the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, which currently has no antler restrictions. The proposed regulation change at U of A Pine Tree Experimental Station WDA will provide additional deer hunting opportunity and help address concerns regarding the growing deer population on the area.

The proposed antler restrictions include:

  • 15-inch inside spread or 18-inch main beam for the following deer zones: 16, 16A and 17.
  • 15-inch inside spread or 18-inch main beam for the following WMAs: Bayou Meto, Cut-off Creek, Ed Gordon Point Remove, Henry Gray Hurricane Lake, Sheffield Nelson Dagmar, St. Francis National Forest and Trusten Holder.
  • No antler restrictions for the following WMAs: Rex Hancock Black Swamp and U of A Pine Tree Experimental Station WDA.
  • 12-inch inside spread or 15-inch main beam for the following WMAs: Mike Freeze Wattensaw and Harold E. Alexander.

These antler restrictions were based on data modeling specific for each physiographic area and designed to protect all 1½-year-old, greater than 50 percent 2½-year old, but allow virtually all 3½-year-old and 4½-year-old or older bucks to be available for harvest. Based on data, this regulation will greatly improve buck carry-over while improving the herd’s sex ratio. If this proposal is accepted, biologists will collect data to monitor results and report findings.

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Youths will be the only hunters allowed to take a jake in 2012.

Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today shortened the turkey season from last year’s total of 18 days to 16 days. The season framework was approved after a review of recent harvests and brood surveys along with input from turkey hunters.

The statewide turkey season will be April 14-29 in zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17 with a bag limit of two bearded turkeys and no jakes, except for a single jake that youth hunters may harvest. In zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A the season will be April 14-24 with a bag limit of one bearded turkey and no jakes, except for a single jake that youth hunters may harvest. Zone 1A will be closed. The 2012 youth turkey season hunt will be April 7-8 in all open zones. The bag limit for the season will be no more than one legal turkey taken per day and no more than two legal turkeys taken in any combination of open turkey zones. Youth may only take one jake during the season, either during the youth hunt or statewide hunt, but adult hunters will be limited to mature gobblers only.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Approved a grant to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to be used for conservation fundraising purposes. The grant includes an either-sex elk permit for the September 2012 elk hunt. The permit will be auctioned at the Arkansas RMEF banquet. Money generated will be used for elk habitat improvements, public education and research.
  • Approved $34,844 for the purchase of new life jackets for the AGFC’s wildlife officers.
  • Approved a budget increase of $113,231.45 for the purchase of new Glock pistols for AGFC wildlife officers. The new guns will replace existing weapons that are as old as 19 years.
  • Approved a pass through Federal Boating Infrastructure Grant, sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for $100,000 to be used for the construction of the Hastings Bay Marina on Arkansas River in North Little Rock.  The facilities will be built to accommodate transient boats in excess of 26 feet on the river.
  • Authorized an increase of $173,732 in the spending limit from funds already budgeted for consulting engineering services on Dam # at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery. The engineering firm of Crist Engineers, Inc. of Little Rock was chosen for the work.
  • Approved five Marine Fuel Tax fund projects around the state. The City of Clarksville will match $42,955 to pave the parking area at Lake Ludwig. Total cost of the project is $85,910. Desha County requested $67,000 to chip and seal the parking area and access road at Lake Kate Adams. The City of Oil Trough will received $82,518 from the tax to be used to pave and increase the size of the parking area at the White River access. Oil Trough will provide an in-kind contribution of $25,753 for the $108,271 project. Perry County will use $46,108 to chip and seal a 2.75-mile section of access roads and parking areas at Harris Brake Lake. Perry County will provide an in-kind contribution of $47,000 for the $93,108 project. White County will receive $12,000 for additional and unanticipated worked at the Little Red River Nimmo Access. Additional work was required on the project to stabilize the roadway. The county has provided an additional $24,000 of in-kind money to the project.
  • Heard a presentation on the Beaver Tailwater Habitat Project. The project included various work on riparian areas, improving water quality, increasing water depth and improved angler access.
  • Heard a presentation on 2011 alligator season harvest. A total of 23 alligators were taken during the recent season.
  • Heard a presentation on the number of boating accidents in the state. As of October, there have been 73 boating accidents and 15 fatalities this year.

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