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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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Flood-prone regions have preset criteria to close deer season during high-water events. AGFC photo.

High water on the White, Cache, St. Francis and Black rivers has forced the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to temporarily close deer season in portions of eastern Arkansas.

According to Cory Gray, deer program coordinator for the AGFC, many areas susceptible to wide-scale flooding offer excellent habitat and large deer populations. When water forces them to leave their normal range, they can become concentrated and vulnerable to overharvest.

“The primary intent of closing flood prone regions is to protect those deer displaced by floods,” said Gray. “These closed zones not only include land that is flooded, but also high ground that serves as sanctuaries from the rising water.”

Flood-prone regions not only include public hunting land, but also private land within those zones. The closure only applies to deer hunting.

“The AGFC conducted a statistically valid hunter survey in 2014 to gauge people’s opinions on flood-prone regions,” said Gray. “It showed 79 percent of hunters who hunted in these regions were in favor of flood-prone zone management.”

A description of all flood-prone regions and criteria for closures are available on pages 56-57 of the 2015-16 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook. Visit http://www.agfc.com or call the AGFC’s Wildlife Information Hotline at 800-440-1477 for the status of all flood-prone regions, updated each day at 3.p.m.

 

Check the current list of flood-prone regions and closings

Deer concentrate on high ground during floods, making them susceptible to overharvest and poaching.

Deer concentrate on high ground during floods, making them susceptible to overharvest and poaching.

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Click the image for 2014-15 deer harvest numbers updated in real time.

Click the image for 2014-15 deer harvest numbers updated in real time.

Deer Harvest Updates Online

Thanks to internet checking, the public can see exactly how many deer have been checked in any deer zone or wildlife management area in Arkansas on a daily basis. Keep an eye on the harvest and see where your stomping grounds rank by visiting http://www.ark.org/agfc/gamecheck/reports.php

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Click the image for deer harvest numbers updated in real time.

Click the image for deer harvest numbers updated in real time.

Deer Harvest Updates Online

Thanks to telephone and internet checking, the public can see exactly how many deer have been checked in any deer zone or wildlife management area in Arkansas on a daily basis. Keep an eye on the harvest and see where your stomping grounds rank by visiting http://www.ark.org/agfc/gamecheck/reports.php

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Click the image to get started using the AGFC's new locator app.

Click the image to get started using the AGFC’s new locator app.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has released a new locator service for smartphones. It uses Geographic Information Systems data, but it doesn’t produce a map typically associated with GIS data. Instead, it simply displays the information for your location.

According to AGFC Geographic Information Systems Coordinator Tracy Moy, the service was developed as a result of another GIS project. “After seeing the value of the service, we determined it would be helpful to others and made a few alterations to it to make it usable for public consumption,” Moy said. “This is just another example of the power of GIS when data is properly placed into a geospatial system.”

The service will work anywhere in the world, but most data is specific for Arkansas, since it is using the AGFC or Arkansas GeoStor services to populate information like hunting zones or parcels. GeoStor is Arkansas’s public spatial data clearinghouse hosted by the Arkansas Geographic Information System Office.

Here’s how it works:

  • First, your smartphone’s GPS service must be enabled.
  • Access the service by opening your smartphone web browser and going to http://gis.agfc.com/locator.
  • When the page loads, you can enter a specific latitude or longitude, or just click the “Locate Me” button. After clicking the button, the service will begin to initialize and will count down. It checks your current location, and after a few iterations, it locks on to a coordinate, a quick process that ensures an accurate reading. When the location is determined, it performs a spatial query by sending a message to the AGFC’s GIS services. The service is asking the GIS database to return information for your location. The results show location, county, township, range and section, as well as nearest city, sunrise and sunset for your specific location, hunting zone. If available, it also displays the address and parcel information for your location. Several of the informational items are retrieved from other GIS databases that are not maintained by the AGFC. Since some of the informational items like parcel data are retrieved from GeoStor; and not all counties are complete, it may not be available for some locations.
  • The service can be added to the iPhone as a web app on your homepage.

If you want to see a map, the AGFC Mapper is also functional on a smartphone. You can visit that service at http://gis.agfc.com.

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