(Updated January 12, 2015)
TWRA Proposes Increased License Fees
For only the second time in 25 years, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is seeking to adjust the way hunting and fishing licenses and fees are structured in order to maintain its successful wildlife, fisheries and education programs. The proposal includes some incremental fee increases and the inclusion of new user groups.
"The reality is that managing our wildlife and fisheries has never been more expensive than it is today," said TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter. "Our objective with this proposal is to spread the cost of these programs across more user groups who utilize Tennessee's public lands and waters."
This license fee change proposal is the first since 2005, and only the second to be sought since 1990. It's also the smallest increase in the TWRA's 65-year history. The Agency, which is funded almost exclusively by hunting and fishing licenses, boating registrations and federal excise taxes on related equipment, has seen operating costs increase dramatically. This includes everything from fertilizer to fish food and other essential expenses over the last 10 years.
Changes to the way license fees are structured can be found across the board in the new proposal, which will be considered by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission in January. If approved, the new fee structure would go into effect on July 1, 2015. Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses expire on Feb. 28, and new licenses will be on sale at the current prices from mid-February through the end of June.
Highlights include: incremental increases for resident hunting and fishing licenses; elimination of certain short-term non-resident licenses; a new fee for professional hunting and fishing guides; new senior citizen license options; and fees related to the use of TWRA firing ranges, as well as for horseback, off-highway vehicle and mountain bike riders whose activities have a maintenance impact on state Wildlife Management Areas.
"This new fee structure will allow us to continue doing the good work we do every day for Tennessee's wildlife and fisheries into the foreseeable future, without having further cuts to programs," Carter said. "We don't take these increases lightly, which is why this is only the second time in 25 years that we've sought such an action. But it's the reality of today's economy, and a burden we can all share incrementally.
2015 Spring Turkey Quota Hunts Application Period Underway
Applications for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency 2015 Spring Turkey Quota Hunts are now being accepted. The application period runs from Dec. 17 through Feb. 4, 2015.
Applications are available and will be accepted at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office, or online at the TWRA website. Applications can be accepted until 11:59 p.m. (CST) on Feb. 4. Mailed applications will not be accepted.
Deer Hunter Kills Mountain Lion
In November, a deer hunter shot and killed a 148-pound male mountain lion east of Hermitage in Bradley County.
It's the first time a mountain lion has been killed in Arkansas since 1975 in Logan County.
The hunter, Douglas W. Ramer, 62, of Bastrop, Louisiana, told wildlife officers the mountain lion was moving toward his deer stand and he felt threatened. According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regulations, non-game wildlife (except migratory birds and endangered species) that present a reasonable threat to people or property may be shot during daylight hours or trapped without a depredation permit.
Ramer, who was on private property, reported the incident to wildlife officers Wednesday. He has not been charged with violating regulations, although officers are continuing to investigate the incident.
The carcass was given to AGFC biologists. Hair from the mountain lion will be sent to Wildlife Genetics Laboratory in Missoula, Montana, for DNA testing, which often can reveal an animal's area of birth.
Mountain lions – also known as pumas and cougars – lived throughout Arkansas until about 1920. The AGFC offered bounties and hired trappers to control predators during 1927-29. At least 255 wolves and 523 bobcats were killed, but no mountain lions were taken.
Five sightings of mountain lions in Arkansas have been confirmed in the last five years, although a breeding population has not been verified. A few mountain lion sightings in Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana also have been confirmed in recent years.
A mountain lion was killed in Montgomery County in 1949 and another in Ashley County in 1969. In late 1998, a team from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock observed tracks, feces and a deer kill from a free-ranging mountain lion across Hot Spring, Garland and Pulaski counties.
Deer Season to Run through January 21st
Mississippi's third white-tailed deer gun hunting season will run through January 21. Hunting with dogs is allowed during this season. Legal deer include legal bucks and antlerless deer on private lands, and legal bucks only on open public lands.
"Deer movement and food plot use have been increasing because of cooler temperatures and reduced food abundance," stated Lann M. Wilf, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Deer Program Leader. "Several large bucks have been taken so far this season, but these have primarily been in Northwest Mississippi and the Delta. A few large bucks have been taken in the Central Region, but this is only the beginning. Buck harvest should increase into the season as the rut progresses across the state."
Special Youth Squirrel Hunt Announced
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks is partnering with the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, Mississippi State University Extension Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to host seven youth squirrel hunts throughout Mississippi on Saturday, February 7, 2015. Hunt locations will be Canal Section WMA, Caney Creek WMA, Copiah County WMA, Howard Miller WMA, O'Keefe WMA, Pascagoula River WMA, and Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. These hunts were developed to introduce youth to small game hunting and conservation. The hunts are provided at no cost to participants.
During the one-day hunts, youth participants will be exposed to principles of hunting and firearms safety, squirrel hunting with dogs, and the daily life of squirrels and their habitats. Best of all, youth participants will have the opportunity to participate in a squirrel hunt.
To apply for a youth squirrel hunt, complete the application at http://mswildlife.org/events/2013-youth-squirrel-hunt by January 23, 2015. All applicants must be 10 - 15 years of age. Each hunt location is limited to 20 youth participants. Applicants will be notified by email regarding space availability for each location. A parent or legal adult guardian is required to accompany youth participants. Guns and ammunition will be provided. Completion of a hunter education course by youth participants is not required.
Commission Proposes 2015-2016 Deer Season Dates
The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission proposed the dates of the 2015-2016 deer seasons and numerous changes to deer and elk regulations in the state at its quarterly meeting Dec. 12.
Commission members proposed allowing resident hunters 65 or older to use crossbows during the entire archery deer season as well as deer zone changes for Hopkins, Larue, Green, Nelson, Bullitt, Grayson, Ohio, Breckinridge and Allen counties. They also recommended modifying deer hunting regulations on 10 wildlife management areas (WMAs) and on Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area.
The commission also recommended several changes to elk hunting management as well as instituting a new landowner voucher permit system.
The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. All recommendations must be approved by legislators before they become law. Some proposals include:
• 2015-2016 deer season dates (no changes from last season, dates reflect calendar shift):
• Bag limits remain the same as last season.
• Resident hunters 65 or older may use crossbows during the entire deer archery season, starting with the 2015-2016 archery deer season.
New Flows Bring Life Back to Section of Coosa River
River flows have been returned to a 20-mile section of the Coosa River as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) hydro relicensing process on the river.
A flow schedule was developed and implemented by engineers and biologists at Alabama Power, along with state and federal biologists, as a result of FERC license renewal negotiations with Alabama Power and a host of local stakeholders. The new water flow will restore habitat and launch recreational activities, such as fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
To create more efficient generation conditions, construction of Weiss Dam redirected flow away from 20 miles of the original river channel in 1960. Discussions about restoring some of these flows began with the discovery in 1998 of an endangered mussel in the original river channel below Terrapin Creek.