LITTLE ROCK - It's getting to be old habit for Arkansas duck hunters. For the 11th consecutive year, Arkansas waterfowlers will get 60 days of duck hunting. Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today unanimously approved the liberal season along with a six duck bag limit for the 2007-2008 waterfowl season. In a short presentation, AGFC waterfowl biologist Luke Naylor told the commission that preliminary duck harvest numbers appear to be on the rebound from the previous season.
The 2006 season mallard harvest rate went up by almost 63,000 birds to 537,500 and the total duck harvest was up by a similar number, Naylor said. "These totals represent the third highest total waterfowl harvest and the highest mallard harvest in the nation during the 2006-2007 season," Naylor said. Duck hunters will be allowed no more than four mallards of which only one mallard may be a hen. The daily bag limit may also contain one pintail, three mottled ducks, two scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads and one black duck but no more than a total of six ducks.
This year the canvasback numbers have rebounded enough to increase that limit to two birds. The waterfowl season will again be split into three segments. The first portion will open on Nov. 17 and continue through Dec. 18. Following a 7-day Christmas break, the season will reopen on Dec. 26 and continue through Jan. 6. Duck season will reopen again on Jan. 12 and continue through Jan. 27, 2008. The popular youth waterfowl hunt is Dec. 22 to 23 with bag limits the same as the regular season.
A proposed banning of all electronic decoys for the 2008-2009 migratory bird seasons was dropped from the proposal package last week. The ban on spinning wing decoys during waterfowl season remains in place for the third consecutive year. The commission also approved goose season dates and bag limits. Arctic goose season will be:
White-fronted Goose Nov. 17 to Dec. 18 Dec. 26 to Feb. 3 Bag limit 2
Snow, Blue, and Ross' Goose Nov. 8 to Dec. 21 Dec. 26 to Feb. 3 Bag limit 20
Snow Goose Conservation Order Feb. 4 to April 27 No bag limit
Canada goose season will be:
Northwest Canada Goose Zone Sept. 1 to 15 Bag limit 5 & Sept. 29 to Oct. 8 Bag limit 2
Southwest Canada Goose Zone Sept. 1 to 15 Bag limit 5 Statewide Dec. 26 to Feb. 3 Bag limit 2
A change in the rules regarding decoys left overnight on three wildlife management areas was approved by the commission. Under the regulation, decoys may be left overnight beginning the Saturday prior to the opening day of the first duck season and must be removed no later than the Sunday following the last day of the last duck season on St. Francis Sunken Lands, Big Lake and Dave Donaldson Black River WMAs.
The commission also approved the use of retrieving dog platforms that are attached to a tree by strap, cable, chain or other means that do not penetrate the tree bark and do not exceed 900 square inches in floor dimension. The dog platform must have the owner's name and home address, or vehicle license plate number permanently fastened to the platform. The dog platforms may be placed on Dave Donaldson Black River, Big Lake and St. Francis Sunken Lands WMAs beginning the Saturday prior to the opening day of duck season and must be removed no later than the Sunday following the last day of the last duck season.
AGFC fisheries chief Mike Armstrong, presented the commission with several commercial fishing regulation proposals for the 2008 season.
The proposed changes included: *Prohibiting blocking of a waterbody.
*Increasing the paddlefish minimum length limit on the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers.
*Setting the minimum length limit for open-water sturgeon to 21 inches.
*Adding the word "consignment" to the definition of sale to ensure their records kept for that type of transaction.
*Defining the word "seining." *Decreasing the statewide paddlefish season length.
*Defining the penalties for misuse of a helper's permit. The full list of changes can be found on the AGFC Web site at http://www.agfc.com/fishing/rules-regulations-fishing/fishreg_proposals.aspx or call the AGFC fisheries division at (501) 223-6371.
The commission will vote on the proposed changes at its Sept. 13 meeting.
In other business, the commission: *Approved a measure to allow out-of-state members of the Arkansas National Guard the opportunity to purchase Arkansas resident licenses for hunting and fishing while serving in Arkansas.
*Approved several sporting fishing code regulation changes. The changes can be found on the AGFC Web site at http://www.agfc.com/fishing/rules-regulations-fishing/fishreg_proposals.aspx
*Approved a request from Howard County to seal a county road leading to the Okay Landing on Lake Millwood. Money for the $80,000 project will come from marine fuels taxes.
*Approved a budget increase of $64,000 to partner with the City of North Little Rock, the Little Rock Fire Department and the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office in the construction of a public boat dock and secure boat housing facility on the Arkansas River. The project will replace the damaged boat dock at the Alltel Ramp in North Little Rock.
*Approved a request from Baxter County to reseal portions of a county road serving the AGFC's County Road 15 Access to Bull Shoals Lake. Money for the $40,000 project will come from marine fuels taxes.
*Approved a $50,000 parking lot surfacing project at the AGFC's Devil's Fork Access on Greers Ferry Lake in Cleburne County.