(Updated February 27, 2014)
Economics of Wildlife - $3 Billion
Every five years the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts a national survey to determine the number of users and economic impact of hunting, fishing and wildlife-associated recreation. Their recent report states there were 923,000 hunters and anglers in Tennessee in 2011, almost 20 percent of the State's entire population.
When non-residents are included, almost one million people hunted or fished in Tennessee that year. Those same sportsmen and women generate 1.9 billion dollars annually in hunting and fishing related expenditures (trips and equipment). Add Tennessee's two million wildlife watchers who spend almost 1 billion dollars annually and the total annual wildlife-related expenditures is almost three billion dollars.
Hunting Seasons' Summary
More than 168,000 deer were harvested in Tennessee during the 2013-14 seasons. This year's total reflects the stability of the state's deer population. The 2012-13 total was more than 176,600.
Giles County was the top county with 5,396. Fayette County was second place with 4,727. Rounding out the top 13 counties with harvests of at least 3,000 are Lincoln 4,694, Henry 4,557, Hardeman 4,299, Maury 4,047, Franklin 4,040, Montgomery 3,897, Carroll 3,291, Madison 3,231, Weakley 3,122, Hickman 3,020, and Hardin 3,012.
View harvest totals including turkey and bear at www.tnwildlife.org in the For Hunters section.
Bill Dance Honored
Bill Dance has been honored for his many contributions to the sport of fishing and as a long-time proponent and supporter of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission and TWRA expressed gratitude to Dance with a resolution read by TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter. It listed many of Mr. Dance's contributions and accomplishments through the years and presented him a plaque engraved with the resolution.
A native of Collierville, Dance is known as Bass Fishing's "First Superstar." He is the winner of 23 National Bass titles and Bassmaster Classic qualifier eight of nine years with an "in the money" finish percentage so high he was able to retire from competition at age 39.
His television career spans more than 45 years, producing more than 2,000 educational and comedy "blooper" programs. His popular television series have included Bill Dance Outdoors on Destination America and Bill Dance Saltwater that airs on The Outdoor Channel.
"I am blessed to have received several awards in my lifetime, but this one is absolutely truly special, more than most," said Dance. "I don't think there is anything the TWRA doesn't know about taking care of our wildlife, so the fact that this plaque comes from a group that I have the utmost respect for is what makes it so incredibly special for me."
He is regarded as the true father of the "catch and release" practice. He also has promoted the pursuit of trophy catfish that has resulted in an increase of angler interest and participation.
Hunters Post Record Deer Harvest
The 2013-14 deer ended with a total harvest of 144,404 animals - a gain of more than nine percent over the previous record set during the 2012-13 season.
Hunters harvested more deer in September than they ever had, the October youth weekend was the best it had been since 2008, there was a slightly better than average muzzleloader season and then modern gun season was way better than it normally is. Spotty hard mast crops made deer more vulnerable to hunters - getting deer into the open, harvested corn fields and food plots.
A record 104,619 deer were taken by firearms hunters. Archery hunters harvested 20,833 whitetails while muzzleloader hunters bagged 15,641 deer and crossbow hunters reported taking 3,311 deer.
The Northwest Fisheries region includes the four Army Corps of Engineers flood control reservoirs: Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid and Grenada Lakes. They total 95,920 acres at summer pool; over 40 percent of the state's public lake acreage. Other important fisheries include the streams and oxbows of the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers. Major Mississippi River oxbows are Horn Lake, Flower Lake and Tunica Cutoff.
Crappies are king on the flood control reservoirs. Enid holds the state and world record white crappie while the state record black crappie was caught in Arkabutla's headwaters.
Although the oxbows are also good crappie fisheries, big bluegills are sought by anglers on these fertile waters. Catfishes occur in all waters, but are truly huge and abundant on the Mississippi River. Largemouth bass fishing is good with best fishing in the clearer lakes such as Sardis, Enid and Tunica. White, striped and yellow bass are found in many waters with stripers mostly confined to the Mississippi River. Fishing effort in this region is high particularly during the spring crappie spawn, with local anglers supplemented by anglers from Memphis, TN and many Midwestern states.
Leftover WMA Turkey Permits on Sale
Leftover turkey hunt permits will be available beginning at 8 a.m. on March 3. Several AGFC WMAs throughout the state will have a limited number of permits left over for turkey hunting. These permits are $10 each and must be paid for with Visa, MasterCard or Discover credit cards.
Permits may be purchased online at www.agfc.com, at a regional AGFC office or the AGFC central office in Little Rock. Hunters can use credit card, cash, check or money order to purchase permits at the AGFC offices. Phone 501-223-6440 or 501-223-6359 for more info.
AGFC Feral Hog Trapping Program
With the increase in Arkansas's feral hog population, the AGFC has intensified feral hog trapping operations on several WMAs. AGFC uses several methods to remove hogs. The most efficient being large corral traps but they require time and effort to condition the hogs to a specific site. Biologists are targeting entire groups of feral hogs for removal. Hunters pursuing other game are encouraged to shoot all hogs they encounter, however the AGFC does not endorse hog hunting as a viable feral hog removal method.
Small areas within a WMA will be temporarily closed to access. Closure is necessary to reduce all human disturbances. An additional benefit of the closures ensures that the hogs do not become educated to the traps and learn to avoid them. Temporary closures are necessary after AGFC found tampering, release of caught hogs and other counter-productive activities near trap sites. The closed areas will be delineated with "No Trespassing" signs and citations may be issued for compliance and tampering with traps and other equipment.
Great Trout Fishing
Arkansas is well known for productive tailwater trout fisheries such as the White, Little Red and North Fork rivers. For the past decade, the AGFC's Family and Community Fishing Program has been stocking rainbow trout in small community fishing ponds in many parts of the state. Between November and February, when temperatures are cold enough to support trout, the AGFC stocks 22 locations with trout. Each winter, AGFC stock roughly 75,000 rainbow trout, opening the world of trout fishing to residents of the state's larger population centers.
Learn more at http://youtu.be/4w46vZB2FuI.
$5,000 Reward for Information on Bald Eagle Shooting
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are investigating the killing of a juvenile bald eagle in Logan County. A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the shooting.
The bald eagle was discovered south of Scranton. The investigation revealed the bald eagle was shot between the dates of Jan. 12-18. Due to its injuries, it is unlikely the bald eagle traveled far from where it was shot. The eagle died on Feb. 7, due to multiple fractures of its right wing.
Bald eagles are protected by federal and state wildlife statutes. Violations carry maximum criminal penalties of up to $100,000 and one year in federal prison. Anyone with information should call Special Agent Jason Keith with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement in Little Rock at 501-324-5643 or Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at 800-482-9262.