Commission approves permanent blind removal plan on WMAs

Source: AGFC
Source: AGFC

LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) - Permanent blinds on two northeastern Arkansas wildlife management areas will be removed before this year's waterfowl season. Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously approved a plan to remove the blinds on Big Lake and St. Francis Sunken Lands WMAs. The vote came today during the Commission's monthly meeting. Permanent blinds are not allowed on any of the state's other WMAs.

Last year, AGFC Director Loren Hitchcock stopped the practice of sportsmen accessing and manipulating habitat on Big Lake, St. Francis Sunken Lands and Dave Donaldson Black River WMAs. The practice is not allowed on any other state WMA.

The blind removal plan will allow hunters, who claim a blind, the opportunity to remove the blind and any personal equipment between Aug. 30 and Oct. 14.

Hunters would first be required to obtain a blind removal permit from the AGFC. The free permits will be available beginning Aug. 20. To acquire a permit, contact the Jonesboro regional office at 877-972-5438 Monday-Friday, 8 4:30 p.m.

The removal process allows specific types of vehicles and equipment to be utilized in the removal process. The permit points out that no habitat degradation will be allowed on the WMAs.

Beginning Oct. 15, the AGFC will begin dismantling the blinds.

Decoys also will no longer be allowed overnight on the three WMAs.

For the 1616th consecutive year, Arkansas will have a 60-day hunting season for waterfowl.

Duck season will be Nov. 17-Nov. 25, Dec. 6-Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-Jan. 27. The popular youth hunt will be Feb. 2-3.

The daily duck bag limit of six will consist of no more than:

Four mallards (two hens);

Three wood ducks;

Two redheads;

One black duck;

Two pintails;

One canvasback;

One mottled duck, and

Four scaup

The Northwest Canada goose zone season will be Sept. 22-Oct. 1 with a bag limit of two. The statewide early Canada goose season will be Sept. 1-15 with a bag limit of five, and the late season will be Nov. 17-Jan. 27 with a bag limit of two.

White-fronted goose season will be Nov. 17-Jan. 27 with a bag limit of two. Snow, blue and Ross' goose season will be Nov. 3-Jan. 27 with a bag limit of 20. The Goose Conservation Order will be Jan. 28-Feb. 1 and Feb. 4-April 25 with no bag limit.

In other business, the Commission:

*Approved fishing regulations that will take effect Jan. 1, 2013;

*Approved three Marine Fuel Tax projects – one to seal the road to Fred Berry Conservation Education Center in Marion Count, the second in Prairie County to construct a new boat ramp and parking lot along the White River at Des Arc and the third to seal the road leading to the Houseman Access on Table Rock Lake in Carroll County.

*Agreed to donate the AGFC Enforcement truck that was involved in the May 2010 shootout in West Memphis. The truck will be donated to the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.

*Agreed to donate a trailer to the Randolph County Sheriff's Office.

*Added Texas to the Carcass Importation Restriction list. Any cervid (deer, elk, moose, red deer, etc.) carcass originating from Texas may not enter Arkansas unless certain disease prevention measures are taken. These measures include clean skulls or skull plates and meat must be deboned. Texas recently discovered two mule deer that tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. There are currently 18 states and Canadian provinces that are on Arkansas's importation restriction list.

*Agreed to a budget increase of just over $20,000 for Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA. The funds will used to construct a work center at the WMA. It will replace one that was destroyed in the May 2011 floods.

*Approved a budget increase of $39,220 for Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA Deer Research Area. The money comes from the auction of several buildings, antique farm tools and implements that were part of the property when it was purchased in 2009.

*Approved a budget increase of $74,190 donated by the National Wild Turkey Federation. The money will fund equipment, a research project and habitat work on the state's public hunting areas.

*Approved a budget increase of $42,000 to establish elevation benchmarks on the Dave Donaldson Black River WMA.

*Heard a presentation about the 2012 turkey harvest by AGFC Turkey Biologist Jason Honey. Honey told the Commission that 8,928 turkeys were checked during the season. The harvest was up from 6,744 turkeys checked during the 2011 season. Fulton County again led the state with 337 birds harvested.