Oklahoma Will Open New WMA This Fall
This fall Oklahomans will have about 8,000 new acres of public land to hunt thanks to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s acquisition of the new Cross Timbers Wildlife Management Area in Love County.
At its July meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved emergency rules for the new property, which includes 6,100 acres that have been purchased by the Department and an additional 2,000 acres under lease agreement.
The emergency rules open hunting seasons on the new WMA this fall and establish rules on camping and area use.
"Since it's a brand new area and in an area of the state that might receive a lot of hunting pressure, we think the best approach is to start with conservative hunting regulations," said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department.
Most small game seasons on the area will be the same as statewide season dates, except closed from the opening day of deer archery season through the first nine days of deer gun season. Additionally, deer muzzleloader, deer gun and spring turkey hunting on the area will be conducted through the Wildlife Department's controlled hunts system.
Peoples said structuring the hunting seasons in this way will help provide a measure for the level of hunting pressure the area will receive.
In other business, the Commission approved dates for the 2011 dove season, which will run Sept. 1 – Oct. 31, statewide, followed by another nine-day period open from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, 2012, statewide. In previous years, dove season was split only in the southwest portion of the state, whereas the majority of the state was open for a continuous 70-day season in the fall.
According to Peoples, the concept of providing a late season dove hunt during the holidays worked so well in the southwest dove zone that the idea appealed to other regions of the state as well. But until this year, federal framework options set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not provide for it. When the option became available to Oklahoma this year, the Wildlife Department took the opportunity.
"This is a great opportunity that can benefit hunters statewide with more hunting opportunity," Peoples said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers populations and habitat status for establishing hunting seasons on migratory game bird seasons that open prior to Oct. 1 at an annual meeting during June of each year. The Service publishes the federal hunting season frameworks for these species soon after its meeting, when state wildlife agencies can then make their selections within the framework guidelines. Other season regulations remain unchanged from last year.
Along with approving dove season dates, the Commission also set dates for September teal season (Sept. 10-25 statewide; limit four daily, eight in possession after the first day) and special September resident Canada goose season (Sept. 10-19 statewide; limit eight daily, 16 in possession after the first day). In addition, the Commission set dates and limits for rail, gallinule, woodcock and snipe. For full details, consult the "2011-12 Oklahoma Hunting Guide," which will be available later this summer.
The Commission also heard a presentation on the Wildlife Department's new, fully-redesigned website, wildlifedepartment.com. The new site organizes information in a user-friendly format while providing resources for those interested in learning about Wildlife Department programs, projects and more. Along with accessing information such as hunting and fishing regulations, users can also manage their own account for online purchasing of licenses and check in their harvested deer, elk or turkey online. To view the Wildlife Department's new website, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
The Wildlife Department also recognized Bluestem Ranch in Osage County as its Oklahoma Landowner of the Year Award recipient. Bluestem Ranch is comprised of about 43,000 acres of cross timbers and tall grass prairie and is owned by widely-known conservationist Ted Turner. Ranch manager John Hurd and his staff oversee management and day-to-day operations.
The Commission also welcomed Altus sportsmen, farmer and rancher Robert Dan Robbins as the newest Wildlife Commissioner. Robbins will serve on the Commission through 2019 as the District 7 representative, after having recently been appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The next scheduled Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m., Aug. 1, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.