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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is accepting public comments on two of four proposed hunting and fishing regulations for 2021.

The proposed amendments were submitted during the commission's regular meeting in April. The first amendment would change the waterfowl hunting hours on Dave Donaldson Black River and Bayou Meto wildlife management areas. It would require hunters to end hunting and be off watercourses on both WMAs by noon during waterfowl hunting season.

The second proposal would clarify who qualifies as an Arkansas resident pursuant to hunting and fishing licensing. Nonresidents would be eligible for resident status if they reside and work at least 60 consecutive days in Arkansas by virtue of a written commitment as full-time employees, or if they are volunteers of a nonprofit charitable organization that is registered and in good standing with the Arkansas secretary of state, and has received a 501(c)(3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service. A volunteer for a nonprofit charitable organization established principally for the recreational benefit of its stockholders or members won't count.

To comment on these proposals, go to agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/scientific-reports/surveys/.

During its next meeting on May 21, which it will conduct by teleconference, the commission will vote on a large slate of regulations it discussed in March. Some of these consolidate existing regulations and add more hunting opportunities.

• Consolidating deer zones. Zones 1A, 6 and 6A will become a single Zone 6. Zones 8 and 8A will become a single Zone 8. Zones 4 and 4B will become a single Zone 4. Currently, Zone 4 has a two-day modern gun season. That area will align with the more liberal regulations of Zone 4B, which has nine consecutive days of modern gun hunting. Zones 5 and 5B will become a single Zone 5. Currently, Zone 5 has four days of modern gun hunting divided into two, two-day seasons. That area will align with Zone 5B, which has nine consecutive days of modern gun hunting.

• Increasing annual deer bag limits for Zones 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11 and 13 from four deer to five. The bag limit for antlered bucks will remain two. Removing antler point restrictions and restricting baiting and feeding would still apply on the county level in terms of CWD management protocols.

• Reducing the aggregate bag limit in Zones 12 and 17 from six deer to five.

• Creating youth deer hunts at 18 WMAs, including Bell Slough, Benson Creek Natural Area, Cattail Marsh, Cutoff Creek, Bois d'Arc, Bayou DeView, Ethel, Bayou Meto, Henry Gray Hurricane Lake, Madison County, Rex Hancock Black Swamp, Ring Slough, Mud Creek, Gulf Mountain, Dagmar, Two Bayou Creek, Village Creek and Whitehall.

• Increasing the number of days that hunters may kill antlerless deer on Piney Creeks and Sylamore WMAs. Also, only one antlerless deer may be taken during either the muzzleloader or modern gun deer season.

• Changing the bag limit on Muddy Creek and Mount Magazine WMAs to one antlerless deer during either the muzzleloader or modern gun season.

• Changing the dates of the Private Lands Antlerless-Only Modern Gun Deer Hunt from the second weekend in October to December, and reducing it from five days to three. The proposed dates are Dec. 29-31. This proposal would also eliminate the three-day muzzleloader hunt in Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17.

Regulations concerning CWD include adding Independence County and Jackson County to the CWD management zone.

Proposed turkey hunting regulations include:

• Condensing the 18 turkey management zones into two zones. Zone 1 will contain 19 counties, including 15 counties in eastern and northeastern Arkansas, Little River, Miller, Washington and Benton counties. Zone 1 will have a nine-day spring turkey season and a season bag limit of one bearded gobbler. Zone 2 will have a longer season with a season limit of two adult gobblers.

• Prohibiting the killing of bearded hens.

• Reducing bag limits on wild turkeys to one bird annually on wildlife management areas. Hunters will be allowed to kill a second bird on a different WMA.

• Opening spring turkey season on the third Monday in April and extending the season length in Zone 2 to 21 days. Start dates will vary annually from April 15-21, and the ending dates will vary from May 5-11.

• Allowing hunters to kill only one turkey during the first seven days of the season and establish a one-bird bag limit during the special youth spring turkey season.

Sports on 05/14/2020

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