Commission approves early migratory season

LITTLE ROCK, Ar (AGFC) - The unofficial opening of Arkansas's hunting season was set during last week's commission meeting in Little Rock. It's time to pull the shotgun out of the gun case and give it a good cleaning. Commissioners from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved the early migratory bird seasons for 2009-2010.

Mourning Dove and Eurasian Collared Dove

Sept. 5 to Oct. 18
Dec. 5 to Dec. 30
Season length and bag limit: 70 days, 15-bird daily bag

Special Early Teal Season

Sept. 12 - Sept. 27
Season length and bag limit: 16 days, 4-bird daily bag

Biologists also presented the proposed late migratory bird seasons for 2009-2010, including several proposals for duck season. One proposal is to raise the hen mallard bag limit on Bayou rently, the regulation limits the daily bag limit on the WMA to a single hen mallard. Another proposal is to prevent the use of boats on the Government Cypress greentree reservoir within Bayou Meto.

One topic of discussion was a proposal to restrict motor horsepower on several WMAs to 25 horsepower or less.

AGFC Wildlife Chief Doyle Shook said habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl improved in much of the U.S. and Canada in 2009. "The Canadian prairie ponds were up 17 percent from 2008 and 5 percent above the long-term average," Shook explained. "Total duck abundance is estimated at 42 million - a 13 percent increase from 2008 and 25 percent above the long-term average," he added.

Based on this year's survey results of 8.5 million mid-continent mallards and 3.6 million ponds in Prairie Canada, Shook said the prescribed regulatory option for the Mississippi Flyway most likely will be the liberal package. "This will result in a 60-day season with a 6-bird daily bag limit," he said.

Season options:

Option 1:
Nov. 26 (Thursday) - Dec. 6 (Sunday)
Dec. 12 (Saturday) - Dec. 23 (Wednesday)
Dec. 26 (Saturday) - Jan. 31 (Sunday)

Option 2:
Nov. 21 (Saturday) - Nov. 29 (Sunday)
Dec. 10 (Thursday) - Dec. 23 (Wednesday)
Dec. 26 (Saturday) - Jan. 31 (Sunday)

Youth Waterfowl Hunt:
Dec. 5-6 or Feb 6-7

The late migratory bird seasons will be decided at the August commission meeting.

In other business, the Commission:

*Approved a budget increase of $225,500 to be used for the development of a habitat conservation plan in the Big Woods of Arkansas. The plan would cover all six of the federally listed species in the area: the ivory-billed woodpecker, fat pocketbook mussel, pink mucket mussel, scaleshell mussel, red-cockaded woodpecker and interior least tern.

*Approved a budget increase of $30,000 to build a trail system on Choctaw Island WMA. The new trail will allow sportsmen and recreationists the opportunity to observe white-tailed deer, turkeys, waterfowl and other birds along the Mississippi River.

*Approved a $40,000 budget increase for a habitat improvement on Dry Run Creek in Baxter County.

*Heard a proposal for fishing regulation changes for 2010.