(Updated January 30, 2015)
TWRA Announces Broad License Fee Increases
For the first time in a decade, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a license fee structure adjustment for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The increase was one of five rule amendments made by the TFWC at its January meeting, which concluded Friday at the Discovery Park of America.
Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses expire on Feb. 28, but the changes will not go into effect until July 1. Sportsmen and women are encouraged to buy 2015-16 season licenses at the current prices before July
TWRA has sought to increase license fees only twice in the last 25 years, roughly following rises in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In this case, the Agency's license revenue will be increased by around 19 percent against a CPI of approximately 22 percent over the last decade. The new structure introduces new licenses for professional guides as well as high-impact users of TWRA's Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Under the new structure, horseback, mountain bike, and off-highway vehicle riders will contribute to the ongoing maintenance of the public WMA trails they use through a new annual license. (All of the new fees and changes will be listed on the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org).
TWRA Solicits Comments for 2015-16 Hunting Seasons
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is soliciting comments for its 2015-16 hunting seasons' regulations. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff. The comment period will be open through Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.
Public comments will be considered by TWRA's Wildlife Division staff and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes. Comments may be submitted by mail to: 2015-16 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include "Hunting Season Comments" on the subject line of emailed submissions.
AGFC Increases Non-Resident License Fees
Commissioners approved an increase in several non-resident hunting and fishing licenses. The Non-Resident Annual Fishing License will be $50, up from $40. The Non-Resident 3-Day Trip Fishing License will increase from $11 to $16 and the Non-Resident 7-Day Trip Fishing License will increase from $17 to $25.
The Non-Resident Annual All Game license will be increased from $300 to $350. The Non-Resident 1-Day All Game License will now cost $55, the 3-day license will be $125 and the 5-day license will be increased to $180. The Non-Resident Annual Small Game License will be increased from $80 to $110 and the Non-Resident 5-Day Small Game License is $70, up from $55. The new non-resident license fee will go into effect March 1.
The commission also moved forward with the creation of three annual resident licenses for resident outdoorsmen who are 65 and older. The AGFC will petition and work with members of the Arkansas General Assembly and the Bureau of Legislative Research towards the creation of the licenses.
The three potential licenses will be a Resident 65-Plus Annual Fishing License, a Resident 65-Plus Annual Sportsman's Hunting License and a Resident 65-Plus Annual Combination License. The Resident 65-Plus Annual Fishing License will be priced at $3.50, a Resident 65-Plus Annual Sportsman's Hunting License priced at $3.50 and a Resident 65-Plus Annual Combination License priced at $4.50.
Arkansas Hunters Check 200,000+ Deer, and the Season is Still Open
For the third straight season, deer checked by hunters in Arkansas have pushed past 200,000. Seven more weeks of archery hunting remain. The high mark was set in the 2012-13 season with 213,487 deer logged.
The archery deer hunt runs through Feb. 28 statewide on private land and on most wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges. But some public areas close earlier. Check the 2014-15 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook for closing dates.
A hint to late season deer seekers: Acorns have been plentiful and native vegetation has remained palatable with many deer staying back in woods to feed instead of venturing out for hunters to see. The acorns that were plentiful earlier may be running low in some areas. Deer could be moving around looking for food. A spot where a hunter failed to see deer could become a productive area in January and February.
The AGFC encourages hunters to ensure they properly identify their target during these late season hunting opportunities. Bucks are beginning the time when antlers are cast, which makes identifying sex of animal difficult. In addition, button bucks (6 month old bucks) continue to grow and may appear to be the same size as some does.
The top county for deer taken by hunters is Union as of early January. This is not surprising as Union County has led the Arkansas deer checks in recent years. Other south Arkansas counties rank high, and Washington County in northwest Arkansas continues to account for a growing number of deer.
Mississippi Men Found Guilty of Headlighting Deer
Michael Shane Uzzle Jr., 19, of Vicksburg, and Ricky Breland, 20, of Redwood, were found guilty Wednesday in Warren County Justice Court of headlighting deer. Uzzle pled guilty to two counts of headlighting and was fined $10,382 after serving 10 days in the Warren County Jail. Additionally, his right to hunt, fish, and trap is forfeited for two years. He is currently under a one year license forfeiture for the illegal harvest of a paddlefish in 2014 at which time he was fined $2,500.
Breland pled guilty to one count of headlighting and was fined $4,492 after serving 30 days in jail. His right to hunt, fish, and trap is forfeited for one year.
"We are pleased with the court's ruling," MDWFP Chief of Law Enforcement Col. Steve Adcock said. "Apprehending those who headlight has been and will continue to be a priority for our law enforcement officers."
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to Collect Broodfish to Support Stocking Programs
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will collect walleye and sauger from waters throughout the state from late January through spring.
"Both the walleye and sauger fisheries in Kentucky wouldn't be as good without stocking," said David Baker, stream fisheries biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "We will take some of these fish as broodfish to the hatchery, spawn them off and return them to the waters from which they came."
Baker said broodfish collection could start as soon as next week if the weather cooperates. Broodstock collected in the coming weeks will help provide better fishing in Kentucky in the future.
Fisheries crews will collect Lake Erie strain walleye, which thrive in lake environments, and native walleye, a riverine fish whose populations declined due in part to rivers being dammed.
Lake Erie strain walleye will be collected from Carr Creek Lake in Knott County, Paintsville Lake in Johnson and Morgan counties, Laurel River Lake in Whitley and Laurel counties, Lake Cumberland in Russell County, the Russell Fork River in Pike County and the Green River in Taylor County.
Employees will also collect native walleye for an ongoing restoration effort to reestablish that strain in its former range. Fisheries employees plan to collect native river strain walleye broodstock from the Rockcastle River, the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and the Barren River, among others.
Crews will collect broodstock sauger from the Ohio River below the Meldahl and Markland dams.
Conservation Department Partners in Coyote Study
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) has partnered with the University of Georgia (UGA) Deer Lab in what UGA researchers are calling the most comprehensive study of coyote behavior in the southeastern U.S.
Other partners in the study include Princeton University and the natural resources departments of Georgia and South Carolina.
In January and February of 2015 and 2016, professional wildlife trappers will be trapping and placing GPS collars on coyotes in Barbour, Bullock, Macon and Russell counties in Alabama. Once fitted with the collars, the coyotes will be released back into the wild and researchers will begin collecting data on the animals' movements every four hours for the next two years. Coyotes will also be collared in Georgia and South Carolina. Approximately 180 coyotes will be tracked in the three-state research area.
One objective of the study is to understand the predation threat coyotes pose to other wildlife including white-tailed fawns. Researchers will also study DNA samples from each of the collared coyotes to determine colonization routes for coyotes in the Southeast.
"After collecting two years of data, this study should give us important information regarding the movement of coyotes in Alabama," said Ray Metzler, acting WFF Wildlife Chief. "We will utilize the results to better understand how coyotes may be impacting other wildlife resources."
In the event of harvesting a GPS-collared coyote, hunters and landowners should return the collar to the UGA. A return address is printed on the collar.