Commissioners to Consider Deer Season Proposals

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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will consider a proposal made Thursday to adopt a bag limit of two legal bucks in deer zones 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 10. Modern gun season opens Nov. 11.

The two-buck limit also includes these wildlife management areas: Cherokee Prairie Natural Area, Dardanelle, Fort Chaffee, Frog Bayou, Galla Creek, H.E. Flanagan Prairie Natural Area, Mount Magazine, Nimrod Lloyd Millwood, Ozark Lake, Petit Jean River and Rainey.

The alternative, brought to the Commission by Wildlife Division Chief Doyle Shook, is intended to recognize the difference in deer density on public and private lands. The Commission raised the statewide deer bag limit from three to four at its March meeting, and will vote on the two-buck limit and other proposals at its May meeting.

The Commission also heard a proposal to create a deer dog permit zone in the Ozark National Forest and private lands in southern and southwestern Newton County, similar to a proposal that was not adopted last year.

“This would be a downsizing of last year’s proposal - about a third the size,” said Commission Chairman Mike Freeze.

The public will have a 30-day comment period before the May Commission meeting. “We will do our best to contact those who commented on last year’s proposal,” said AGFC Director Scott Henderson.

Shook proposed a boundary change between deer zones 12 and 14 to allow more suitable deer seasons and bag limits on about 24,000 acres of mostly private land south of Millwood Lake. He also proposed a ban on waterfowl imports to Arkansas to reduce the risk of spreading avian flu.

The Commission approved regulations changes for Cherokee and Jim Kress WMAs, leased to the AGFC by Green Bay Packaging Inc. The changes, which pertain to littering, dumping trash, hunting dogs and ATV use, were requested by Green Bay. The changes are on par with regulations on other WMAs.

Fiscal Division Chief Ray Sebren presented a proposal to raise the prices of two non-resident hunting licenses to the level of surrounding states. The Non-resident Annual All-game Hunting License would increase from $225 to $300 and the Non-resident Five-day All-game Hunting License would increase from $125 to $150.

Bear Program Coordinator Rick Eastridge told the Commission that 345 bears (195 males, 150 females) were harvested during the 2005 season. Bear zone 1 led the way with 203 bears, 32 of which were taken in Johnson County, and zone 2 reported 110 bears taken, a record for that zone.

Eastridge said the population in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains is stable and recommended, “doing away with harvest quotas in zones 1 and 2.” Freeze, in his seventh year on the Commission, said the calls about nuisance bears he received years ago have stopped and praised Eastridge and the program: “It looks like the bear program is in real good shape.”

Fisheries Division Chief Mike Armstrong submitted a list of proposed fishing regulations changes for 2007. He said public meetings have been set for AGFC regional offices and other sites across the state (times and dates of those meetings are listed below).

The Commission approved Armstrong’s request for a $50,000 habitat barge to be used on lakes Greeson, DeGray and Ouachita. The 28-foot barge with a hydraulic lift will be built by Tracker Marine and sold at cost to the AGFC. It will be used to place structure for fish habitat and transport materials for fisheries projects.

The Commission voted to suspend daily limits on fish taken from Carol Ann Cross Pond, which is owned by Fort Smith. The city plans to replace the pond’s dam this summer.

A new access area built by the AGFC and Pine Bluff on Bayou Bartholomew was named the Dr. Curtis Merrell Bayou Bartholomew Access Area. Merrell was the founder of the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance.

Dale Gunter, chief of construction, engineering and real estate, received approval for a donation of 120 acres on Horseshoe Lake in White County. The Commission also approved a trade of 130 acres for 200 acres at Loafer’s Glory WMA to improve public access. Gunter received $47,437 to finish the Bull Shoals Nursery Pond project.

Six Marine Fuel Tax projects were approved for roads and boat ramps: Point Remove Access on Ed Gordon WMA, Lodge Corner on Bayou Meto WMA, Round Bottom Access on the White River, Frost Point Access on Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Wilhelmina and Plum Bayou in Lonoke County.

The Commission approved $90,421 for the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program, which is a pass-through grant that will be reimbursed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The money is earmarked for Goose Harbor Marina on the Arkansas River at Van Buren and Lost Bridge Marina on Beaver Lake. The marinas, which will contribute 25 percent of the cost, will use the grant money to make changes to accommodate boats longer than 26 feet.

District Fisheries Public Meetings
(All meetings begin at 7 p.m.)

Tuesday, May 2
McMullan Lecture Hall, ASU-Mountain Home
(877) 425-7577

Thursday, May 4 AGFC Brinkley Regional Office (877) 734-4581

Tuesday, May 9
AGFC Monticello Regional Office
(877) 367-3559

AGFC Camden Regional Office
(877) 836-4612
Thursday, May 11
Rogers City Administration Building
(877) 631-6005

Hot Springs Convention Center, Room 205
(877) 525-8606

REA Building, De Queen
(877) 777-5580
Tuesday, May 16
AGFC Jonesboro Regional Office
(877) 972-5438

AGFC Russellville Regional Office
(877) 967-7577
Thursday, May 18
William Carl Garner Visitor Center, Heber Springs
(877) 470-3309

Thursday, May 25
AGFC Little Rock Headquarters
(800) 364-4263