AGFC Proposes Regulations To Manage Deadly Disease In Deer & Elk

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LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved general hunting regulations Thursday (May 19) and outlined proposed regulations to manage the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), which has been found in dozens of deer and several elk in Northwest Arkansas.

The CWD-focused proposals include:

  • Prohibiting the use of scents and lures that contain cervid urine, effective January 1, 2017,
  • Allowing deer and elk hunting with the use of bait Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 statewide,
  • Prohibiting the feeding of wildlife statewide, with exceptions for bird feeders and other types of feeding that do not concentrate deer,
  • Removing the three-point rule and increase the bag limit from four to five deer and the antler-less bag limit to three with firearms in deer zones 1 and 2,
  • Liberalizing deer season on Bearcat Hollow, Buffalo National River, Gene Rush, Ozark National Forest, Piney Creeks, Sweden Creek Natural Area and White Rock WMAs,
  • Requiring all elk harvested to be submitted for CWD testing,
  • Prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer statewide,
  • Establishing a CWD management zone in counties with known positives and those close to known positives,
  • Establishing a private land CWD management program in the CWD management zone to allow landowners to take additional deer off their property to reduce deer density and slow the spread of the disease,
  • Prohibiting the transport of certain portions of cervid carcasses outside the CWD management zone. This will allow only deboned meat, cleaned skull plates, hides, teeth and taxidermy products to be transported out of the CWD management zone,
  • Allowing button bucks to be checked as antlerless deer in deer zones and WMAs within the CWD management zone,
  • Establishing a core elk management zone of Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties, and allow hunters to harvest any elk found outside these counties during deer season,
  • Increasing the private land antlerless elk quota in the core elk management zone from 24 to 40,
  • Creating a non-commercial hunting enclosure permit for high-fenced facilities, and require those facilities to submit CWD samples for all deer that die within the respective facility, allow annual inspections, and maintain accurate deer harvest records. There would also be a moratorium on the issuance of new permits after July 1, 2017.

All CWD-related proposals will be voted on in June, and Commissioners stressed that altering these proposals is still likely.

The AGFC also made some regulations changes for the 2016-17 season:

  • Moving the spring turkey season opener to the second Monday in April with youth turkey season being the Saturday and Sunday immediately before the opening day,
  • Prohibiting the use of all simulated wing-movement decoys on Commission-owned wildlife management areas and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges,
  • Requiring waterfowl hunters to be off water-inundated areas or water courses on WMAs after noon from the first day of the first segment of regular duck season until the last day of the last segment of regular duck season,
  • Increasing the horsepower limit of surface-drive motors from 36 hp to 37 hp,
  • Prohibiting boat access on greentree reservoirs on Dave Donaldson Black River WMA after noon, except on Black River and Little River,
  • Adding a youth modern gun deer permit hunt for Rick Evans Grandview Prairie WMA,
  • Add a private lands antlerless-only deer hunt in deer zones 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 7 and 11,
  • Setting Duck, Coot and Merganser season as Nov. 19-27; Dec. 8-23, and Dec. 26-Jan. 29, with youth waterfowl days being Dec. 3, 2016 and Feb. 4, 2017,

Regulations concerning CWD management will be presented at public meetings throughout the state May 24 and 26, as well as a special live call-in show airing at 8 p.m., May 23 on AETN.

Meetings on May 24 and 26 also will be streamed live on the AGFC’s YouTube channel.

CWD was first detected in deer and elk in Madison County and then was found in animals in Pope County.

The disease is deadly and affects the animal’s nervous system. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their heads low, salivate and grind their teeth.

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