Arkansas Purchases Property

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Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wasted little time before agreeing to purchase their first piece of property utilizing funds from oil and gas leases on the state's wildlife management areas. At its monthly meeting, commissioners agreed to pay just over $2.12 million for over 1,800 acres near the Choctaw Island WMA in Desha County.

AGFC chairman Freddie Black of Lake Village said that the land was a great opportunity for the state. "This sends a clear message to the people of Arkansas on what we plan to do with the money from oil and gas exploration. It's a unique property and I'm really excited that we have this opportunity," he said.

Rep. Robert Moore, of Arkansas City, enthusiastically endorsed the purchase. "This acquisition will really compliment Choctaw Island WMA. It falls in line with what I've been trying to do to promote the Delta and southeast Arkansas. I support it 100 percent," Moore said.

For the third consecutive year, Commissioners agreed with a recommendation by the agency's wildlife management division that a shorter, later season is needed to match gobbler harvest to recent below-average turkey brood production levels and to allow more hens to breed and start nesting before hunters take to the woods.

The recommendation was made after a review of recent harvests, brood surveys and gobbling chronology data along with input from turkey hunters. AGFC turkey program coordinator Mike Widner has recommended implementing a long-term conservative season structure to include a shorter spring turkey season and a later opening date. "The conservative season structure has increased gobbler carryover and also helped stabilize the recent declines in turkey populations and harvest," he added.

The spring 2009 turkey season youth hunt will be April 4-5 for most of the state and March 28-29 for zone 17. The statewide turkey season will be April 11-May 1 in zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9 and 10; April 11-24 in zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A and April 4 to 26 in zone 17. Zone 1A will be closed.

The bag limit for the spring season will be the same as last year with no more than one legal turkey per day and no more than one jake. Hunters will also be restricted to no more than two total legal turkeys per season.

In other business, the Commission:

  • *Heard a proposal for a private lands elk hunt in zone 4. The proposal came about in response to elk and landowner conflicts in the area. The proposed season will be five days in January with a limit of one elk per hunter. If approved, the quota will be five antlerless elk and two either sex elk.
  • *Heard a proposal for the 2009 commercial fishing regulations. The proposed regulations included keeping a minimum length limit on Mississippi River paddlefish at 34 inches and at 36 inches for paddlefish on the Arkansas River below Dardanelle. After meeting with commercial fishermen, an agreement was reached to propose a change in the season dates for paddlefish. The proposed dates are Nov. 20 to April 10 on the Arkansas River. The proposed changes do not include the Dardanelle and Ozark pools of the River.
  • *Approved a budget increase of just over $120,200 to purchase a new fish delivery truck. The truck will be used at the Jim Hinkle Spring River Hatchery in Mammoth Spring.