By Ronnie Weston| March 28, 2013 at 11:32 AM CDT - Updated July 11 at 9:00 AM
LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – A record 44 elk were harvested during the 2012 hunting seasons, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologist Wes Wright noted during last week's monthly meeting of the Commission.
In 2012, 20 bull elk and 24 antlerless elk were harvested during hunting seasons in September and October in territory near the Buffalo River. The previous record was 38. Since 1998, when elk hunting began in Arkansas, 376 have been harvested (195 bulls, 181 antlerless). Harvested elk are weighed, ages are estimated and blood samples are taken for disease tests. Elk also are tested for chronic wasting disease.
Wright said a recent survey found at least 620 elk on public and private land, up from 453 counted during the previous survey.
The Commission elected Commissioner Ron Duncan of Springdale vice chairman to fill the previously vacant position.
In other business, the Commission:
*Heard a proposal for general hunting dates for the 2013-14 seasons. The season dates will come up for vote at the April 18 Commission meeting.
*Heard a proposal for amended trout and turtle regulations.
*Approved up to $2.7 million to repair and renovate Dam No. 3 at Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery at Mammoth Spring. The dam maintains the hydraulic head and provides the water supply to sustain trout production for the hatchery.
*Approved a budget transfer to move $50,000 in Marine Fuel Tax money from the Kingfisher Lake Access Road project to the Sunlight Bay Access project on Nimrod Lake.
*Approved a land swap involving 43 acres owned by the AGFC southeast of the Interstate 440-U.S. Highway 165 interchange and two tracts of land owned by the City of North Little Rock that total 54 acres. The exchange would allow greater fishing and recreational use of Faulkner Lake. The Commission approved a budget increase of $7,500 for an environmental inspection and real estate closing costs related to the trade.
*Approved a budget transfer of $102,500 from the AGFC Brinkley Regional Office to survey Upper White Oak Lake. This is the highest-priority land survey in Fisheries Division projects, and would identify AGFC property to help implement the agency's land use policy.
*Approved a budget increase of $748,019 in the Wildlife Management Division for the completion of Wetlands Reserve Program projects on Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area ($$120,050), Frog Bayou WMA ($61,967) and Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek WMA ($565,992). These programs are funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service through a 100 percent cost-reimbursement process, resulting in no cost to the AGFC.
*Approved a budget increase of $60,000 to supplement funds earmarked for complete removal of duck hunting blinds on Big Lake WMA and St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA.