The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard the first reading of the 2018-19 general hunting regulations Thursday at its monthly meeting in Little Rock.
The commission will hear the second reading of the regulations at its next meeting in April, and it will vote on the proposals in May.
There was considerable debate over a proposal to prohibit surface-drive motors at all wildlife management areas. Some members of the commission said that a reasonable compromise would be to eliminate regulations at WMAs like Bayou Meto that restrict the number of shells duck hunters may possess and that limit them to smaller daily bag limits than statewide limits. A companion proposal would require duck hunters to be off certain WMAs by 1 p.m. Instead of noon.
"There's a noise issue with surface-drive motors and people disturbing other folks by scouting and that sort of thing," said commission chairman Steve Cook. "It's a give and take, and we want to try and give some items back a little bit."
Commissioner Bobby Martin said many hunters have invested significant amounts of money in surface-drive motors, and that it might be unreasonable to ban their use on public areas after only one season.
Significant proposals include:
• Setting duck season to run Nov. 17-25, Dec. 6-23 and Dec. 26 through Jan. 26, 2019.
• Setting all goose seasons to run Nov. 17-Dec. 23, and Dec. 25 through Jan. 27, 2019.
• Setting deer season opening dates. Archery season will begin Sept. 28. Muzzleloader season will open Oct. 19, youth deer season will open Nov 2-3, and modern gun season will open Nov. 9. the private lands only antlerless season will run Oct. 12-16.
• Prohibiting taking deer with handguns that have barrels shorter than 4 inches, that are chambered for straight-wall cartridges smaller than .357, and bottleneck-case cartridges smaller than .22-cal.
• Allowing the use of certain big-bore air rifles to take whitetailed deer during any open modern gun deer season. Legal air rifles for taking deer must be at least .40-caliber that produce a minimum of 400 foot pounds of muzzle energy and that are charged from an external tank and propels a single expandable slug. Air rifles meeting these criteria would also be allowed for taking deer in Deer Management Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B.
• Adding Benton, Crawford, Franklin, Sebastian and Washington counties to the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone.
• Removing the 3-point rule from counties in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone.
• Establishing a tier based carcass movement restriction system for the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone. Tier 1 will include Boone, Carroll, Madison and Newton counties. Tier 2 will include Benton, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Pope, Searcy, Marion, Sepastian, Yell, Washington and Van Buren counties. This will restrict the movement of entire carcasses from counties with a higher apparent prevalence to areas with a lower apparent prevalence, and from counties with a lower apparent prevalence to counties where chronic wasting disease has not been identified.
• Clarifying that youth turkey hunters may take only one jake during the youth turkey hunting season.
• Requiring any youth that has not successfully completed a hunter education course that is participating in a youth hunt to be accompanied by an adult mentor that is at least 21 years old.
• Eliminating the Elk Management Assistance Program and reducing the cost of private land elk hunting permits from $35 to $5.
• Increasing the archery bear quota in Bear Zone 1 from 205 to 250.
• Allowing holders of controlled deer hunting permits at Ed Gordon Point Remove, Harold E. Alexander Spring River, Madison County and Gulf Mountain WMAs to take bears during the controlled hunts outside of the Bear Zone 1 quota.
• Making it a Class 3 violation to exceed the season bag limit for alligator, bear, deer, elk, and wild turkey.
• Opening a limited alligator season in Alligator Management Zone 2, which includes south-central Arkansas and portions of several counties bounded by I-40, Hwy. 10, Hwy. 27 and Hwy. 247.
The commission also approved buying several properties. One is a 975-acre parcel adjacent to Cypress Bayou WMA in White County from Jason Smith and William Dismang 975 acres in White County adjacent to Cypress Bayou WMA for $2.9 million. One is a 311-acre inholding at Gene Rush Buffalo River WMA in Newton County from Lick Mountain, LLC, for $725,000. One is a 3,604-acre parcel adjacent to the Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita River WMA in Union County from The Nature Conservancy for about $4 million.
The total purchase price for the three properties will be $7,631,000. Federal Wildlife Restoration Act grants will reimburse $7,106,500 to the Game and Fish Commission. The remaining $525,000 will be paid with state funds.
Also, the commission approved spending $775,000 to buy 13 acres for a new regional office in Mountain Home.
Sports on 03/25/2018