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Arkansas Deer Plan Covers Sociological Aspect

From Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

-- Any mention of deer in Arkansas is closely followed by comments relating to people. These may be hunters, landowners, gardeners or suburban residents proud of their azaleas.

Now in effect, the new Strategic White-tailed Deer Management Plan of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission addresses the deer-human issue as one of six categories, labeling it Sociological. The other categories of the plan are Resource, Education, Communication, Habitat and Enforcement.

The plan was approved by AGFC's commissioners at their February meeting in Dumas. It was created with the assistance of several dozen private citizens who participated in idea and planning sessions, and their influence is reflected in many of the plan's objectives.

The plan supplants a 1999 deer management plan for Arkansas. It is called the 2007 plan because most of it was constructed last year.

Wildlife managers for decades have said the hardest part of managing deer and other wild creatures is the human element. The new AGFC deer management plan leads off its sociological category with the succinct phrase "Sociological goal: Be responsive to public concerns."

Hunting is included here, but the details and intricacies of seasons, bag limits, antler restrictions and gender rules are not. These are not covered in the management plan but are left to yearly study and action by the AGFC staff and its commissioners.

In the Sociological Goal, the plan says AGFC will "provide assistance to the public regarding deer/human conflicts. Some conflicts are ongoing, such as vehicle collisions with deer on public roads."

The plan suggests continued work with the media to distribute information through Arkansas about deer and people conflicts.

Another element in the Sociological Goal is to continue the deer advisory groups "as a tool for gathering public opinions." The advisory groups will also be an avenue for the AGFC to tell the public about various deer issues and the assorted management options that could be employed to meet these issues.

And also in the Sociological Goal is hunting. The goal is to "increase the availability and quality of public hunting opportunities," the plan says.

The complete deer management plan can be found online at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/deer/deerplan_revision.aspx.

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