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Commission weighs Arkansas 2010-11 hunting season proposals

From the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

-- Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners has removed several proposed changes for the 2010-11 hunting season following public comment. The Commission is studying proposals and will make a final decision at the April meeting.

The item that generated the most response was a proposal to restrict baiting or feeding wildlife on public or private lands from March 1-Aug. 1, with the exception of high fence enclosures and backyard wildlife viewing. The proposal was removed from the list of suggested regulations for 2010-11. AGFC chief of wildlife David Goad said his division will spend the next year researching and educating employees and the public on the effects of feeding and baiting wildlife, in particular ground nesting birds.

Another proposed regulation removed from the list was a requirement to display hunter orange on all sides of ground blinds during deer modern gun and muzzleloader seasons. “It’s best to remove this item until the public has a better understanding of this issue,” Goad explained.  

He also made a point to clarify the spring turkey bag limits.

The season bag limit may include no more than two legal turkeys, one of which may be a jake, on Arkansas land located west of the Mississippi River. In zones 17A and 17B, which includes Arkansas land located east of the Mississippi River, hunters must follow the bag limits of the adjoining state. In Zone 17A, which is Arkansas land east of the Mississippi River in Tennessee, hunters may take four bearded turkeys (bearded hens and jakes are allowed). In Zone 17B, which is Arkansas land east of the Mississippi River in Mississippi, hunters may take three adult gobblers or gobblers with at least a 6-inch beard, but no bearded hens.

Hunters may not exceed any zone harvest limits or kill more than four turkeys in the state. “For example, if you kill two turkeys in Arkansas west of the Mississippi River, then want to hunt in 17A, you can only take an additional two turkeys, not four more turkeys in Zone 17A. The same example is true for the three turkey limit in Zone 17B,” Goad explained.

Proposed season dates for the 2010-11 deer hunting season:

Archery - All zones: Oct. 1 to Feb. 28.
Modern Gun - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 13-Dec. 5.
Zone 4: Nov. 13-14.
Zone 5: Nov. 13-14 and Nov. 20-21.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 13-Dec. 12.
Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 13-21.
Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 13-Dec. 19.
Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 13-Dec. 24.
Muzzleloader - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15: Oct. 16-24 and Dec. 18-20.
Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 16-24 and Dec. 29-31.
Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed.

The statewide Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt is proposed for Dec. 26-28 and the special youth modern gun deer hunt is proposed for Nov. 6-7 and Jan. 1-2, 2011.

In other business, the commission:

• Agreed to close all caves on AGFC lands and Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Natural Area WMAs to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome in bats. The agency owns at least 83 caves on four WMAs in Arkansas. The four AGFC areas that have caves on them are McIlroy Madison County, Gene Rush, Loafer’s Glory and Harold E. Alexander WMAs.

• Heard a report from hunter education coordinator Joe Huggins on the 2008-09 hunting season’s record low number of hunting accidents. Huggins told the commission only 12 accidents were reported, the lowest number since hunter education began in 1971.

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