(Updated April 28, 2016)
Commission Previews 2016-2017 Migratory Bird Seasons
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission was presented a preview of 2016-17 waterfowl and other migratory game bird hunting seasons at March meeting.
Joe Benedict, Assistant Chief of Wildlife and Forestry for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, made the presentation. Waterfowl seasons are now being set earlier in the year due to a change in the timing of the Federal Regulation Process. (More information can be found on page 3 of the 2015-16 Tennessee Waterfowl Guide.)
Under the new process, season frameworks for migratory game bird seasons are developed in the fall of the preceding year. Accordingly, the 2016-17 season frameworks were developed at the 2015 fall Mississippi Flyway meeting, using the 2015 breeding population data.
States will now set their waterfowl, dove and other migratory bird seasons in late winter or early spring, as compared to late summer in previous years.
All duck, goose, dove, and other migratory game bird seasons will be similar to last year after calendar date changes, with the following changes recommended during the TFWC meeting. This included moving the common moorhen, purple gallinule, Virginia and Sora rail seasons earlier (to Sept. 1-Nov. 9), to better align with bird occurrence in Tennessee and to change the Brant season to align with the statewide Canada Goose and duck seasons (Nov 26-27 and Dec 3- Jan 29, 2017) No Brant have been harvested in the Mississippi Flyway, including Tennessee, in at least five years and this will simplify regulations.
A recommendation to shift the third segment of the dove season 13 days later was also presented. Public input received by TWRA indicated preference for hunting more days in December and hunting until the end of the federal framework. Proposed dates for the third dove segment are Dec. 8-Jan. 15.
For the 2017-18 duck, goose, crane and other migratory game bird seasons, public comments will be invited from Oct.15-Nov. 15, 2016. Proposed seasons will be presented at the January 2017 TFWC meeting, with final approval at the February 2017 TFWC meeting.
Upcoming Family Fish Camp at NMFH Visitor Center
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation (MWF) will host a Family Fish Camp at the North MS Fish Hatchery Visitor Education Center near Enid on May 28 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The camp will be a great way for Mississippi families to learn about fish and fishing.
Family Fish Camps are designed for families who are not active anglers, with children ages 6 to 17. Campers will learn how to identify fish, choose bait and tackle, fish safely and ethically, and prepare their catch. Casting and fishing instruction will be provided by experienced anglers. A resident Small Game Hunting/Freshwater Fishing license is required for campers ages 16 through 64 unless they are exempt from the license requirement.
The camp is limited to the first 50 applicants, and the application deadline is May 16. Youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Applications can be completed online at the MWF website, www.mswildlife.org. Paper applications can be obtained from the MWF by calling (601) 605-1790. Mail applications to MDWFP Fish Camp 2016, Attention: Larry Bull, 1505 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS 39211. Selected participants will be notified by May 19. For more information about MDWFP Fish Camps, contact Larry Bull at (601) 432-2200 or LarryB@mdwfp.state.ms.us.
For more information regarding fishing in Mississippi, visit our website at www.mdwfp.com or call us at (601) 432-2200.
79 Confirmed Cases of CWD Found in Arkansas
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has received 23 additional confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease among deer and elk in northern Arkansas, which brings the total to 79.
Confirmation of the first positive CWD sample came Feb. 23 from a cow elk near Pruitt. Samples were tested at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison, and verified by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.
At this point, three of the 79 positive samples have come from elk in Newton County. Positive CWD samples include 74 deer from Newton County and two deer in Boone County. A total of 327 samples have been taken since the cow elk tested positive near Pruitt.
The agency's first phase of CWD surveillance focused on determining the disease prevalence rate in the CWD focal area of Newton County. Some samples from the focal area have yet to be tested, so the exact prevalence rate has not been calculated, according to Dick Baxter, an assistant chief in the AGFC Wildlife Management Division.
"At this time, 61 out of the 266 random samples taken by the AGFC from the focal area have tested positive," Baxter said. "That's a prevalence rate of 22 percent from the results we've received."
The final results from the AGFC's random sampling phase of the focal area may be completed later this week or early next week, but biologists have confirmed a higher prevalence of CWD than anticipated.
The presence of CWD can be determined only within a few days of an animal's death, so the agency is asking that the public report dead deer or elk as quickly as possible. Any person witnessing a sick or dead deer or elk should contact the AGFC's radio room at 800-482-9262. Operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To keep the public informed on the status of CWD in Arkansas, a May 19 public meeting has been scheduled at the Carroll Electric Co-op building in Jasper. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. The agenda for the meeting includes providing updated CWD results and potential regulation proposals specific to CWD management.
4,145 Turkeys Harvested During Youth Weekend
According to preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), young turkey hunters harvested 4,145 birds during the 2016 spring youth season, April 9-10. Top harvest counties were Callaway and Franklin with 105 birds harvested in each, and Greene with 88 birds harvested. Gasconade, Osage, and Saint Clair each came in next with 84 birds harvested. Young hunters checked 4,441 turkeys during last year's youth weekend. For more information by county on the turkey harvest for spring youth season, visit MDC online at extra.mdc.mo.gov/widgets/harvest_table/.
Conservation makes Missouri a great place to turkey hunt. For more information on the upcoming regular spring turkey hunting season, April 18 – May 8, get a copy of the Department's 2016 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available where permits are sold or go online to the MDC Hunting section at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/turkey.
Help Sought to Locate Barn Owls
Wildlife biologists with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources need the public's help in locating as many barn owl nesting sites as possible to gain a deeper understanding of why the species has declined in the state.
Barn owls, with their distinctive heart-shaped faces and dark eyes, were plentiful across Kentucky as late as the 1960s. Currently there are only about 50 documented nesting locations statewide.
Barn owls have gradually lost their historic nesting and foraging habitat as landowners have cut down old trees damaged by storms and converted pastures, hayfields and grasslands to row crops. Biologists are looking for additional reasons for the decline. Researchers are also asking for the public to report any dead barn owls, so that specimens can be collected and examined.
More common owl species are often confused with barn owls. Barn owls have no ear tufts. They are a medium-sized bird, measuring 14-20 inches tall. However, they can appear larger when in flight due to their 3½-foot wingspan. Barn owls have a whitish face and breast with whitish to pale cinnamon bodies. They do not hoot like some owls species. Instead, they screech and hiss, especially when approached.
Barn owls prefer open areas such as hayfields and pastures; they are not usually found in the woods. Although they often nest in hollow trees, barn owls regularly nest in man-made structures such as old barns, silos, grain bins, chimneys, hay lofts and attics. They also settle in older residential areas that have larger, cavity-prone trees.
Barn owls nest year-round in Kentucky, although most of the nesting activity occurs from March through August. They do not build a nest of sticks and grass. Instead, they lay their eggs directly on the surface of the nest site they choose.
For more information on barn owls, go online to fw.ky.gov and search under the keywords, "barn owl."
Anyone with information about the location of a barn owl nest or a dead barn owl should contact Wildlife Biologist Kate Slankard at 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4474. Observers can also email Slankard at firstname.lastname@example.org.