(Updated April 29, 2015)
Hatchie NWR 50th Anniversary Celebration Offers Fun for the Whole Family
A local natural treasure is celebrating its golden anniversary by honoring the sacrifice, dedication, and hard work of those involved during its rich history - and looking forward to the future. Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge is kicking off a day of festivities open to the public on May 9 (9:30 am - 2 pm, ) at the Refuge Visitor Center with a ceremony including guest speakers from the Fish & Wildlife Service, State and local partners, and former staff. The Refuge is then offering activities including environmental educational tours, exhibits and demonstrations, youth activities, and canoe trips on Oneal Lake.
Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge was established on November 16, 1964 "… for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds." 16 U.S.C. 715d (Migratory Bird Conservation Act). The first staff was assigned in November 1965 and the refuge now totals 11,556 acres.
The Refuge encompasses the middle reaches of the Hatchie River and consists of bottomland hardwoods, moist soil units, agricultural fields, oxbow lakes, and associated uplands. The large forested tracts, open lands, and aquatic features found on the refuge provide an important ecological niche for fish, wildlife, and plant species within the Lower Mississippi River Valley ecosystem. The portion of the Hatchie Scenic River in Tennessee is one of the last un-channelized rivers of its type in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, although its tributaries in Tennessee and headwater portions in the state of Mississippi have been channelized.
Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge's Visitor Center is located at 6772 Highway 76 South, Stanton, Tennessee 38069 just south of Brownsville. From Memphis, TN take Interstate 40 East to Exit 52. Exit to right then left or north onto Hwy 76 S, travel 1.5 miles to the headquarters on the right. From Jackson, TN take Interstate 40 West to Exit 56. Exit left or south onto Hwy 76 S, travel 3 miles to the headquarters on the left.
Upcoming Habitat Management Activities on WMAs
As the days get longer and winter draws to a close, months of habitat management planning are about to be put into action across Mississippi. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks' (MDWFP) biologists and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) managers across the state have been preparing to take habitat management plans from paper to the field. When habitat management is mentioned, most hunters often think of food plots and wonder what they should plant. However, food plots make up a very small percentage of the overall landscape. Due to past implementation of habitat management techniques across Mississippi's WMAs, food resources, nesting cover, brood-rearing cover, and escape cover are plentiful throughout the state.
A large majority of habitat management on state-owned WMAs takes place between late winter and early spring. Late winter is the ideal time to conduct dormant season prescribed burns in pine stands, as well as on old fields being maintained in early successional habitat. After spring green up, WMA managers and biologists will begin conducting growing season burns to control undesirable woody species. Along with prescribed burns, spring is the perfect time for herbicide treatments to control non-desirable invasive species such as tall fescue, Johnsongrass, and encroaching woody vegetation.
One goal of the MDWFP is to make WMAs an excellent example of proper habitat management and provide for a quality user experience. If you visit a WMA and see MDWFP personnel spraying herbicide, burning, cruising timber, or implementing any other management practice, please remember that they are improving wildlife habitat which will ultimately enhance WMA user enjoyment.
Feral Hog Hunters Cautioned About Swine Brucellosis
The popularity of hunting feral hogs in Alabama has increased during the past few years as land managers target these animals to keep the population in check. Because handling harvested hogs brings with it a small chance of contracting swine brucellosis, officials with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are reminding hunters to protect themselves when field dressing the animal.
Swine brucellosis, an infectious disease of pigs, is caused by the bacterium Brucella suis. Humans can contract swine brucellosis if blood, fluid or tissue from an infected animal comes into contact with the eyes, nose, mouth or a skin cut. Swine brucellosis does not affect the edibility of the meat, but it should be thoroughly cooked.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following precautions when field dressing feral hogs:
• Use clean, sharp knives for field dressing and butchering.
• Wear eye protection and rubber or latex gloves when handling carcasses.
• Avoid direct contact of bare skin with fluid or organs from the animal.
• After butchering, burn or bury disposable gloves and parts of the carcass that will not be eaten.
• Avoid feeding raw meat or other parts of the carcass to dogs.
• Wash hands as soon as possible with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or more. Dry hands with a clean cloth.
• Clean all tools and reusable gloves with a disinfectant, such as diluted bleach.
• Thoroughly cook the meat.
• Be aware that freezing, smoking, drying and pickling do not kill the bacteria that cause brucellosis.
"This caution is not meant to keep anyone from killing feral hogs," said Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Director Chuck Sykes. "We just want to remind hunters that preventive measures should be standard when handling hogs."
Because swine brucellosis can have a long incubation time, immediate symptoms may not be present. Although few humans die of infection, the disease is often chronic and debilitating. If a hunter gets sick with flu-like symptoms, remember to inform the doctor of any contact with a feral hog.
Feral hogs are a threat to wildlife because they compete for food sources, damage wildlife openings and habitat, and destroy nests. Because hogs can transfer brucellosis, the potential threat to human health is a very important reason hogs should not be released in the state. Transporting live feral hogs from one property to another is illegal in Alabama.
Commission Sets 2015-2016 Deer Season
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission set the state's deer hunting seasons today, with modern gun deer season opening Nov. 14, archery season opening Sept. 26, and muzzleloader season opening Oct. 17. The deer season dates are part of the 2015-16 general hunting regulations approved during the Commission's monthly meeting.
Season dates for the 2015-16 deer hunting season:
Archery – All zones: Sept. 26-Feb. 29, 2016.
Modern Gun - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 14-Dec. 6.
Zone 4: Nov. 14-15.
Zone 5: Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 21-22.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 14-Dec. 13.
Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 14-22.
Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 14-Dec. 20.
Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 14-Dec. 25.
Muzzleloader – Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Oct. 17-25 and Dec. 12-14.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Oct. 17-25 and Dec. 19-21
Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 17-25 and Dec. 29-31.
Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed.
The statewide Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt is Dec. 26-28. Youth modern gun deer hunts will be held Nov. 7-8 and Jan. 2-3, 2016. A private land antlerless-only modern gun deer hunt in zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17 will be held Oct. 10-14.
The Commission also approved 2016 turkey season dates:
Zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17: April 16-May 1, 2016.
Zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A: April 16-24, 2016.
Zone 1A: Closed.
The special youth turkey season will be held April 9-10, 2016. Turkey zone 1A will be closed for the youth hunt.