(Updated August 2, 2016)
Federal Dollars May Be on the Way to TWRA!
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received notification that a bill introduced in the United States Congress could annually dedicate funds from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to state fish and wildlife agencies.
The introduction of the bill has been an effort in progress that the TWRA and other state wildlife agencies have been working toward for several years. The legislation calls for dedicating $1.3 billion annually to conserve species of greatest conservation need. The benefit would come to about $22 million for Tennessee to implement the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) and to provide funding for non-game animals.
"This legislation does not create a new tax, but rather reallocates existing revenue generated from energy production on federal lands and waters," said Ed Carter, TWRA Executive Director. "With support from energy companies and a broad coalition of industry and non-governmental partners, we're hopeful this legislation will be well-received by members of Congress.
"Through hunting and fishing license fees, hunters and fishermen have long been the mainstay of funding for non-game animals. I have no doubt the anglers and hunters across the state will welcome this additional help in securing needed financial assistance."
Carter went on to say "the primary intent of this legislation" is to keep animals off the endangered species list and to provide for sound management. For an animal to become listed as endangered it is obviously in peril, but that action can also inadvertently alter management for other non-listed species as well as overall management for any land or water-related uses.
Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the bipartisan Recovering America's Wildlife Act (HR5650). The bill reflects the recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources which released its final report in March 2016. The funding would be deposited in the existing but unfunded Wildlife Conservation Restoration subaccount under Pittman-Robertson.
In addition to providing much needed funding to effectively implement State Wildlife Action Plans, the Wildlife Conservation Restoration program can also be used for conservation education and wildlife-dependent recreation. If passed into law, this would be the largest infusion of funding for state-based fish and wildlife conservation in a generation.
The next step in the process is to secure bipartisan co-sponsors of the bill. A legislative team that includes staff from Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and the National Wildlife Federation and Congressional Sportsman's Foundation has developed a list of members to target for co-sponsorship.
Those two organizations have asked for the public's help to reach out and encourage members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill. The legislation will provide an opportunity to obtain sustained funding for fish and wildlife diversity.
Mississippi BUI Incidents Kept in Check over July 4th Weekend
Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Conservation Officers concluded the 2016 July 4th boating enforcement period which began Friday, July1 at 6 p.m. and ended Monday, July 4 at midnight.
Throughout this period, MS Conservation Officers issued 404 total citations including 30 alcohol and drug related and five Boating under the Influence (BUI) citations.
Boating traffic was down slightly compared to previous years. Officers conducted 2,169 safety checks on vessels operating on Mississippi's public waters. All available Conservation Officers were utilized during the holiday weekend conducting saturation patrols and safety checkpoints.
"Increased patrols over the course of this boating season have led to lower numbers of boaters operating under the influence, which leads to a safer, more enjoyable experience for everyone," states Col. Steve Adcock.
AGFC Passes Special Regulations to Slow CWD
Commissioners voted unanimously during a special meeting to approve a Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone made up of Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell counties.
CWD has been found in five of these counties since first being discovered in Arkansas in late February. The AGFC has circulated proposals to slow the spread of the disease for the last month through 11 public meetings throughout the state, a live call-in show on AETN and an electronic survey at agfc.com.
Feeding wildlife will be prohibited within the 10-county CWD management zone. However, baiting for the purpose of hunting will be allowed September 1 through December 31, when more than 95 percent of Arkansas's deer harvest takes place.
"We opened the time frame up slightly to include September because we have three urban hunts within the CWD management zone which open in September," said Brad Carner, AGFC chief of wildlife management. "Baiting is a useful tool to increase the harvest in these areas where we need to reduce deer density."
Food plots are not included in the feeding prohibition, nor are backyard bird-feeding stations, hand-feeding of wildlife or normal agricultural or livestock practices.
The AGFC will issue extra deer tags to landowners near known CWD-positive cases to help reduce deer density.
"Landowners do not have to harvest additional deer, but samples from all deer harvested through these CWD management tags will be required." Carner said.
Transportation of deer and elk harvested within the CWD management zone also will be restricted. Only deboned meat, cleaned skulls, antlers, teeth, hides and taxidermy products may be removed from the CWD management zone.
"Hunters will be allowed to transport the whole deer or elk within the 10-county zone to take them home or to a processor, but will not be allowed to leave the zone with anything but the approved portions of the animal," Carner said.
Hunting limits will be increased within deer zones where CWD has been found. An additional doe will be allowed during modern gun season and the three-point rule will be removed in those zones (deer zones 1 and 2) to help increase harvest. Button bucks in those zones will be counted as antlerless deer to promote harvest.
Scents and lures using natural deer and elk urine will be prohibited statewide.
The rehabilitation of deer will be prohibited statewide. Recent research has indicated that at least 75 percent of rehabilitated fawns die within 100 days of release. With only 100 or so fawns rehabilitated per year, such low survival was not enough to warrant the risk of spreading CWD throughout the state.
"With CWD being present in yearlings we've sampled, it's possible that a fawn infected with CWD may go to a rehabber and be reintroduced to a new area and spread the disease," Carner said. "It's also possible that the fawn may contaminate the facility and any deer rehabbed there later could get the disease."
Hunters outside of Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties may now harvest any elk they see during regular deer hunting season with a limit of one, either sex. This is to contain the elk to the current range and prevent them from spreading CWD to any new areas. All hunters who kill elk will be required to submit a sample for CWD testing as well.
A proposal to create a non-commercial hunting enclosure permit for high-fence deer facilities was tabled.
Kentucky Kids Win BIG in World Tournament!
Fifth grader Savannah Philpot of Laurel County and seventh grader Henry Thompson of Lawrenceburg took top honors in recently completed world school archery tournaments held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Philpot, a student at Bush Elementary in London, bested 1,999 others to win the overall female champion title in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) World Bullseye Tournament held June 23-26. The tournament featured 4,135 male and female students from 27 states and Canada.
Philpot scored 295 out of a possible 300 points to take the title.
Archers also competed in the NASP/IBO 3D World Tournament. Thompson, a student at Anderson County Middle School, took the boys' 3D title with an overall score of 297 out of 300.
The tournaments concluded the NASP 2015-16 season. Kentucky held its state tournament in March. Archers competing in the world event had to qualify in the national tournament.
Several Kentucky school teams also recorded strong finishes in the World Bullseye Tournament. White Hall Elementary of Richmond finished first among 54 teams in the elementary division with a score of 3285 out of 3600. Madison Central High School, also from Richmond, shot a team score of 3452, finishing above the other 79 teams in the high school division. Pulaski County High School finished third in the division. Complete results from both tournaments may be found online at http://nasptournaments.org/.
The National Archery in the Schools Program was created in 2001 by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Kentucky Department of Education. The program has since gone international.