(Updated March 01, 2018)
Hatcher scholarship winner announced
Mackenzie Roeder, a graduate student at Austin Peay State University, is the second recipient of the Robert M. Hatcher Memorial Scholarship. She was recognized and presented the award at the January meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The $1,000 scholarship is named in honor of Bob Hatcher, who served the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for 38 years, which included the Non-Game and Endangered Species Coordinator from 1987 until 2001. Members of the Hatcher family attended the presentation at the TFWC meeting held at the agency's Region II Ray Bell Building.
Mackenzie is a graduate biology student at Austin Peay. She will be graduating early to begin Ph.D. position with SHARP (the Salmarch Habitat and Avian Research Project) at the University of Maine. Her plans for the future after completing her doctorate are to use her skills in molecular biology and evolutionary ecology to help conserve threatened and endangered birds and their habitats.
Gibbs, Roberson receive 2017 wildlife awards
Dan Gibbs and Joshua Roberson have been honored by being named the 2017 TWRA Wildlife Biologist of the Year and Wildlife Technician of the Year. The annual awards are presented by the TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division.
Gibbs began his TWRA career in 1997 and has served as a biologist in East Tennessee since 2002, responsible for regional management of bear, deer, turkey, waterfowl, small game, and furbearers. In 2016, he was also designated as the Statewide Bear Program Leader. Roberson serves in TWRA Region 1 and has worked on Kentucky Lake and Natchez Trace Wildlife Management Area for the past seven years. Yhe Biologist of the Year is the latest honor for Gibbs. He was named Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) Biologist of the Year this past fall.
Roberson has worked to help maintain and promote hunting, fishing and trapping. He assists in banding every year at the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge's Duck River Unit where he has helped band more than 1,000 geese and 2,500 wood ducks. Roberson has notoriety as a trapper, particularly trapping beavers on waterfowl impoundments.
CWD confirmed in Mississippi; biologists to meet
A white-tailed deer collected in late January in Issaquena County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The deer was a 4.5-year-old male that died of natural causes and was reported to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
This is the first time an animal in Mississippi has tested positive for the disease, which is fatal to white-tailed deer. MDWFP will immediately implement the CWD Response Plan under the auspices of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Pursuant to the Order of the Executive Director on behalf of the Commission, effectively immediately, supplemental feeding is banned in the following counties: Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren, and Yazoo.
CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, and has been confirmed in 24 states, three Canadian provinces, and two foreign countries. It has been found in the free-ranging herds in 22 states and among captive cervids in 16 states.
According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD affects only cervids (hoofed animals in the cervidae family such as deer, elk, and moose). CWD affects the body's nervous system. Once in the host's body, prions transform normal cellular protein into an abnormal shape that accumulates until the cell ceases to function. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite, and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate, and grind their teeth.
Meanwhile, Cory Gray, chief of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Research Education and Compliance Division, says biologists from Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana are already planning to meet and discuss future actions so each state can be on the same page.
"The discovery came at a difficult time to gather samples, as hunting season is nearly over in Arkansas with only a few bowhunters still looking for a deer," Gray said. "We are reaching out to hunting clubs in the southeast corner of the state to keep a sharp eye out for any deer showing signs of CWD and to report it immediately."
Gray says the AGFC plans to collect more hunter-harvested samples from the southeast corner of the state during the 2018-19 deer season. Other samples will come from target animals from public reports and roadkills.
"We are about to enter another season of collecting roadkill samples, and have already spoken to local biologists to increase that effort as much as possible," Gray said.
For details about CWD developments in Mississippi, visit mdwfp.com.
For information about CWD in Arkansas, visit www.agfc.com/cwd.
Mississippi Longleaf Pine Initiative Continues
The United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has financial assistance available to qualified Mississippi landowners wanting to create or restore longleaf pine stands on their land. This Longleaf Pine Initiative (LLPI) is offered under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to qualified landowners and forest managers in Central and Southern Mississippi working to restore longleaf ecosystems.
Longleaf pine forests nearly vanished, but a coordinated conservation effort led by NRCS and other conservation partners is helping this unique ecosystem of the Southeast recover. Longleaf pines provide valuable forest products, pine straw production, scenic beauty, good wildlife habitat and harbor many threatened and endangered species. There are 29 threatened and endangered species that depend on these forests for survival. Two specific species are found in Mississippi, the gopher tortoise and the black pine snake.
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help landowners and land managers plant and manage longleaf forests. LLPI is in its eighth year and has helped restore more than 350,000 acres of longleaf forests.
MDC reports final deer harvest 283,940
Preliminary reports by the MDC show a total harvest of 283,940 deer during the 2017-18 season. Top counties for the overall season were Howell with 6,182 deer harvested, Franklin with 5,957, and Texas with 5,619. Of the 283,940 deer harvested 135,891. For antlered bucks, 30,538 were button bucks, and 117,511 were does. Hunters harvested 263,834 deer during the 2016-2017 deer hunting season.
Deer hunting ended with the close of the archery season. Preliminary data from MDC showed that hunters checked 51,722 deer during the archery season. Top counties for the archery season were Jefferson with 1,169 deer harvested, St. Louis with 1,021, and Franklin with 1,000. Of the 51,722 deer harvested, 21,162 were antlered bucks, 5,319 were button bucks, and 25,241 were does. Hunters checked 47,552 deer during the 2016-2017 archery season.
The past season was the second in which MDC began allowing crossbows as a legal method during the deer and turkey archery season. Of the 51,722 deer harvested under archery methods, 19,691 were with crossbows. Of the 2,426 turkeys harvested under archery methods, 1,113 were with crossbows. For the first season that included crossbows (2016-2017), of the 47,552 deer harvested under archery methods, 14,336 were with crossbows, and of the 2,304 turkeys harvested under archery methods, 853 were with crossbows.
The MDC reported five firearms-related hunting incidents during the fall deer and turkey hunting seasons. All were non-fatal. Three involved self-inflicted wounds. Two involved one hunter shooting another.
Record-breaking northern hog sucker gigged
The MDC reports Richard Bradshaw of Winona became the most recent state-record-fish breaker in Missouri when he gigged a northern hog sucker on the Current River in Carter County. The new "alternative method" record fish caught by Bradshaw on Jan. 27 weighed 2 pounds, 12 ounces with a length of 18.6 inches. Bradshaw's recent catch broke the previous state record by 4 ounces. MDC staff verified the northern hog sucker's weight on a certified scale in West Plains. This is the first state-record fish of 2018.
Missouri state-record fish are recognized in two categories: pole-and-line and alternative methods. Alternative methods include: throwlines, trotlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines, spearfishing, snagging, snaring, gigging, grabbing, archery, and atlatl. For more information on state-record fish, visit the MDC website at http://on.mo.gov/2efq1vl.
Trout time at four state hatcheries
As winter winds down, anglers throughout the Show-Me State are beginning to show some signs of trout fever. Symptoms include: tying flies, putting new fishing line on reels, checking waders for holes, and practicing casting. Most anglers who get trout fever get rid of it by doing one thing — visiting one of Missouri's four trout parks to participate in the catch-and-keep trout season.
Thursday, March 1, marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Montauk State Park near Licking, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. The catch-and-keep season at the trout parks runs through Oct. 31.
The MDC operates trout hatcheries at all four parks. To help predict angler turnout on opening day, hatchery staff rely on permit records going back more than 80 years. Montauk, Bennett Spring, and Roaring River hatchery staff expect crowds of about 2,000 anglers at each location and Maramec Spring staff is planning for a crowd of about 1,000. Based on these predictions, hatchery staff will stock three trout per expected angler on opening day for a total of more than 21,000 fish averaging around a foot in length. The hatcheries will also stock a mix of "lunkers" ranging from three to 10 pounds.
Trout hatcheries are just one way that conservation pays in Missouri. MDC stocks more than 800,000 trout annually at the state's four trout parks and approximately 1.5 million annually statewide. Trout anglers' spend more than $100 million each year in the Show-Me-State, which generates more than $180 million in business activity, supports more than 2,300 jobs and creates more than $70 million dollars in wages. About 30 percent of Missouri trout anglers come from other states, so a substantial portion of trout fishing expenditures is "new money" for the state's economy.