Tennessee WRC Makes Amendment to Wild Hog Proclamation, Hears Fisheries Division Updates

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The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission amended the Statewide Non-protected Wildlife Proclamation concerning the eradication of wild hogs and heard updates on fisheries among business at its September meeting which concluded Friday.

Concerning the eradication of wild hogs, landowners have voiced concerns that the persons who had leased their land for hunting had expected to be able to have the opportunity to kill a hog. The landowners were concerned they will lose the income produced from these leases.
 
In response to this concern, the commission voted to allow all landowners who have hunting leases the ability to authorize individuals under those leases to assist in the eradication of wild hogs. The leases must have been in effect as of Sept. 15, 2011.
 
Landowners who have hunting leases in effect as of Sept.15, 2011 may allow individuals authorized under the lease to assist in eradication efforts of wild hogs. Authorized lease members may use the following methods:
 
a. Any weapon and ammunition legal for taking big game and small game during daylight hours only.
b. Live traps with bait. Bait may not be used during big game hunting seasons without an exemption from the TWRA. All targeted animals must be dispatched before removal from trap.
c. If a landowner has obtained an exemption, authorized lease members may shoot hogs at night with the aid of artificial light, shoot over bait during big game season, or any other methods as approved by TWRA. Authorized lease members may also use dogs as part of the experimental eradication program in Overton, Fentress, Cumberland, and Pickett counties. Dogs may not be used during November or December.
 
The authorization of lease members by landowners for wild hog eradication expires Feb. 28, 2012. 
 
Also, in response to suggestions about the hog eradication process, the commission authorized the incidental take of wild hogs during previously scheduled bear/dog hunts in the counties or portions of counties open to bear/dog hunting in the current Big Game Hunting Season Proclamation.
 
In other business at the meeting, as a follow-up to previous discussions, Frank Fiss, Assistant Chief of TWRA Fisheries, presented options for a fishing guide license for the commission’s and public’s consideration.
 
The fishing guide license options presented were 1) no change to existing rules or no guide license required; 2) fishing guide license required ($200 for residents, $1,000 for non-residents); and 3) fishing guide license required (the same fee of $200 for residents, $1,000 for non-residents) and guides would need to meet qualifying criteria. Those criteria included for discussion were proof of insurance, background check, first aid/CPR training, and boating safety training. No decision was made on these options. However, the discussion was centered around the guide license for designated tailwater fisheries.
 
Also presented were recommendations offered by Commercial Fishing Advisory Committee. The volunteer committee is entirely comprised of nine members of the commercial fishing community and was recently established by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its recommendations were:
 

Eliminate Region 2 contract requirements (calling in and reporting).

Reduce the number of commercial roe fish licenses (Type 108) sold to 70.

Make it legal for commercial fishing helpers to run gear without presence of commercial license holders.

Change mesh size of hoop nets to be 1 inch on the square and larger.

Open Tellico Reservoir to commercial fishing.

Rework commercial fishing laws to resemble a business regulation model following the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.

Open commercial harvest of catfish in Fort Loudoun Reservoir.

Drop the statewide limit on catfish over 34 inches.

Paddlefish recommendations: no changes be made to the handling procedures; no changes be made to the Mississippi River regulations; and implement a 5-year plan to open new waters to paddlefish harvest beginning in the 2011-2012 harvest season. The new plan a) requests that existing regulations be kept the same for water bodies currently open to commercial harvest; and b) creates a rotational plan for opening Norris, Watts Bar, Cordell Hull, Old Hickory and Melton Hill reservoirs to paddlefish harvest with a limited season of January 15–April 15. Upon accepting items (a) and (b), then increase length limit to 38 inches for the new 5-year plan.

These recommendations will be reviewed by TWRA staff. After input from the general public, this issue will be reviewed by the commission.
 
The TWRC will hold its next meeting Oct. 13-14 in Nashville.