DEM to Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Hunting and Fishing Regulations

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The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2007-2008 freshwater fishing seasons and the 2006-2007 hunting seasons and bag limits on Wednesday, June 14. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in the Warwick Police Department's Community Room at 99 Veteran's Memorial Drive in Warwick.

In addition to date changes, there is one proposed regulatory change for freshwater fishing that prohibits the use, as bait, of any variety of goldfish in the fresh waters of the state. DEM enacted emergency regulations on May 22 prohibiting the importation, sale, or possession of any variety of goldfish for use as bait in the state's fresh waters, including a variety that is being marketed as "Black Salty" baitfish. Massachusetts, California and Florida have already acted to prohibit the use of Black Salty goldfish in the fresh waters of their respective states.

There are no proposed changes to the pheasant-stocking program for the upcoming season. Hunters would still be able to purchase two books of permits to take a season total of 12 birds. DEM plans to stock 11 state management areas from opening day, October 21, 2006, until January 14, 2007.

There are several proposed changes to the hunting regulations, primarily regarding turkey and deer hunting.

DEM is proposing to move the fall archery turkey hunting season to October 1-29, 2006 with a separate permit valid for the taking of one bird of either sex. The traditional hunting season to take bearded male turkeys is proposed for April 26, 2007 through May 28, 2007. The traditional special weekend for youth and paraplegics to hunt turkeys is proposed for April 21 and April 22, 2007.

According to Michael L. Lapisky, DEM's Acting Chief of Fish and Wildlife, the proposed deer permit process would be similar to that of last season. All permits would be available for sale at any time during the season. Additionally, DEM would offer additional permits to hunt antlerless deer – deer of either sex with antlers measuring less than three inches.

Those hunting with muzzleloaders would be allowed to purchase three permits: one to take a deer of either sex, and two to take antlerless deer. The proposed season to take a deer of either sex would be from November 4 through November 26, 2006 on state and private land.

The permits to take antlerless deer would be valid on state and private land from November 4 through November 26, 2006 and from December 20, 2006 through December 26, 2006 on private land. The permits to take antlerless deer are intended to curb the state's deer population by increasing the doe harvest. Permits could be purchased at any time and used in any order.

The proposed shotgun deer hunting season is also similar to that of last year. Those hunting with shotguns could purchase permits to take three deer – one of either sex and two antlerless. Both permit types would be valid on private land and state management areas, on the following dates: December 2 to December 10, 2006 on state management lands and to December 17, 2006 on private lands. Shotgun hunting would again be permitted in Newport and Bristol counties where allowable by local ordinance.

Those hunting deer by bow on the mainland would be permitted to take three deer during the archery season: one either sex and two antlerless from October 1 through January 31. Permits would be available for purchase at any time and used in any order.

The suite of deer permits for Conanicut/Aquidneck Islands would increase by one antlerless tag. Hunters would be permitted to purchase a total of three permits, one either sex and two antlerless for each of the three season types – archery, muzzle loader, and shotgun – for a total of nine permits. The dates of the seasons would mirror the mainland season dates. This effort is being proposed to reduce the Island herds, without impacting the number of permits available to mainland hunters.

New this season on Prudence Island, bow hunters would be allowed to harvest one either sex deer from management areas and two deer, one of either sex and one antlerless, from private lands, during the proposed season, October 20, 2006 through January 7, 2007. The quota for the island has not been established at the time of this notice, as necessary data for the population modeling is still ongoing. All deer permits could be purchased at any time during the deer hunting season.

Copies of the proposals are available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Fish and Wildlife" under "Programs". They are also available on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife office at the Stedman Government Center at 4808 Tower Hill Road in Wakefield.