EL DORADO – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard modified proposals to help slow the spread of chronic wasting disease in Arkansas at its June meeting today at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce.
Regulations concerning CWD originally were presented at the Commission’s May 19 meeting. Since that time, AGFC staff has gathered public comments through 11 public meetings, a statewide call-in television show on AETN and an online public survey.
“Almost all of the questions and concerns we have received focus on the elimination of supplemental feeding on a statewide basis,” said AGFC Chief of Staff Jeff Crow. “We have modified that proposal to only apply to the 10 counties in our proposed CWD management zone.”
The following modified proposals will be voted on during a June 24 special meeting of the Commission:
· Establish a CWD management zone consisting of Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell counties.
· Prohibit feeding within the CWD management zone, except:
o Baiting will be allowed Oct. 1-Dec. 31 for hunting.
o Food plots will be allowed.
o Incidental feeding of wildlife during active livestock operations will be allowed.
o Backyard bird feeding will be allowed.
o Grain scattered or distributed from normal agricultural practices will be allowed.
o Feeding of wildlife by hand (e.g. ducks at the pond) will be allowed.
o Bait for AGFC-approved management, research and control of wildlife will be allowed.
· Issue extra deer tags to landowners within the CWD management zone, to help decrease deer density. Hunters using these tags will be required to submit samples of harvested deer for CWD testing.
· Deer and elk killed within the CWD management zone must remain within that zone, except:
o Deboned meat
o Cleaned skull plates
o Taxidermy products
· Prohibit scents and lures containing natural deer urine statewide.
· Prohibit rehabilitation of deer statewide.
· Liberalize season structure on public and private land where CWD is present by lifting antler restrictions and increasing bag limits.
· Establish a core elk management area consisting of Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties.
o Hunters outside of the core elk management zone may take any elk they see while deer hunting with a limit of one elk, either sex.
o Increase the quota on private land elk hunting within the core elk management zone.
· All elk harvested statewide must be submitted for CWD testing.
· Create a non-commercial hunting enclosure permit for all high-fence deer facilities.
o Require CWD samples from all deer that die in these facilities.
o Require annual inspections in these facilities.
o Require facilities to maintain accurate harvest records.
o No new permits will be issued after July 1, 2017.
The Commission is expected to make an official vote on these regulations during a special meeting June 24. The Commission will continue to accept public comments on proposed regulations via online survey at www.agfc.com.
In other business, the Commission:
· Elected Fred Brown of Corning commission chairman and Steve Cook of Malvern commission vice-chairman, effective July 1, 2016;
· Formally approved the AGFC’s CWD Response Plan, an adaptive plan which outlines actions deemed necessary to combat the continued spread of CWD in Arkansas;
· Approved the removal of obsolete, damaged and unusable inventory with an original value of $39,991 and a current net book value of $840;
· Awarded Emon Mahony, outgoing commission chairman, his service sidearm;
· Approved the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Capital Asset Master List for the first quarter of the fiscal year, which outlines expenditures and assets each division deems necessary for the performance of their job duties;
· Approved the demolition of two AGFC-owned residences on Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area and Camp Robinson Special Use Area that are in need of extensive repairs and are no longer used;
· Approved a temporary construction easement and permanent property easement on the C.B. “Charlie” Craig State Fish Hatchery to the City of Centerton for the construction of water and sewer lines on a 20 ft. x 1,320 ft. portion of the property. The Commission also waived all fees associated with said easement;
· Approved the Fiscal Year 2017 maintenance and operations budget of $87,960,100;
· Approved the Fiscal Year 2017 gas lease budget of $854,960, and
· Approved the Fiscal Year 2017 Black River settlement budget of $2,099,890