LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Arkansas's bear harvest continues to be strong. Hunters
harvested more than 400 bears during the 2011-12. Last year, hunters
harvested more 450 bears. During the 2009-10 season, hunters harvested a
record 530 bears.
The harvest totals were presented to commissioners of the Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission during its monthly meeting last week.
Bear Program Coordinator Myron Means said the harvest numbers could be
attributed to private land hunters using bait. "Mast failure caused
bears to seek baits more than in the past," Means said. Means added that
the sex ratio was good and the statewide harvest goal is between 350
and 400 bears each year.
Polk and Scott counties were again the two top counties for bear
hunters. In Polk County, 51 bears were harvested, followed by 45 bears
in Scott County.
Means said that future considerations for bear season may include
removing the two-day early modern gun hunt in Bear Zone 2. "The two-day
gun season has been successful in increasing bear harvest for Bear Zone
2. However, it also has increased the female harvest ratio from roughly
35 percent to 50 percent," Means said. "A 50 percent harvest rate of
adult females is not sustainable over the long term," he warned.
In other business, the Commission:
*Announced that Jeff Crow has been named the new Chief of Enforcement
for the AGFC. Most recently Crow served as the Law Enforcement
Management Specialist for the University of Arkansas's Criminal Justice
Institute. Crow replaces Mike Knoedl who was promoted to deputy
*Approved up to $500,000 to fund eight Wildlife Recreation Facilities
Pilot Program projects around Arkansas. The money for the projects comes
from natural gas lease revenues the AGFC has received.
*Approved up to $1 million to fund 13 grants through the Wildlife
Observation Trails Pilot program. Money for the program also comes from
natural gas lease revenues.
*Heard a proposal for a new code concerning non-liability for wildlife
damages. *Approved a budget increase of $121,621 to repair the Gurdon
Lake Dam spillway. The dam was damaged during flooding in 2010. The
Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the AGFC $118,121 of
the total cost.
*Approved the renaming of an access on Dry Run Creek in Baxter County.
The access will be renamed Larry Rider Dry Run Creek Access after the
former fisheries employee. Rider was instrumental in establishing Dry
Run Creek as a catch-and-release are for youths and mobility-impaired
*Approved a budget increase of $115,880 for habitat restoration and
stream bank stabilization in the White River basin. The money will come
from the Environmental Protection Agency through the Arkansas Natural
*Approved the purchase of 41 vehicles at a cost of $977,234. The
vehicles will replace 41 vehicles that have are nearing or exceeded
150,000 miles. Each of the replaced vehicles will be sold and removed
from inventory as soon as equipment is transferred to the new vehicles.
*Approved a budget transfer of $62,800 for improvements at Henry Gray Hurricane Lake and Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek WMAs.
*Approved a budget increase of $90,000 from an EPA grant to study the Arkansas West Gulf Coastal Plain wetland terraces.
* Honored Sgt. Floyd Harper with the Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of
the Year award. Harper is based in Monticello and patrols southeast
Arkansas. Award winners are selected on the basis of their professional
relationships with hunters, anglers and landowners in their districts,
their job performance and dedication to the wildlife law enforcement
profession and participation in activities outside of daily enforcement
*Read a proclamation from Gov. Mike Beebe honoring the 75th anniversary
of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.The WSFR program is
the revenue foundation for most fish and wildlife conservation programs.
First created on Sept. 2, 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt
signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, the program raises
funds through a dedicated excise tax on sporting guns and ammunition. In
1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted and
added to the WSFR program. Through this law, funds are provided for fish
conservation and boating and fishing recreational programs in each
state through an excise tax placed on certain fishing and boating
equipment and fuels.