Meetings focus on duck hunting

Posted: March 7, 2017 at 1 a.m.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will hold public meetings during March on proposed changes to management practices on many popular wildlife management areas for waterfowl habitat.

The closest meeting to Northwest Arkansas is at 6 p.m. March 30 at Doc Bryan Lecture Hall, 1605 N. Coliseum Drive at Arkansas Tech University. Other meetings are scheduled in central and southeast Arkansas.

The meetings are to inform the public about habitat degradation in wetland areas, particularly artificially flooded bottomland hardwood forests known as greentree reservoirs.

"Hunting on greentree reservoirs draws duck hunters from all over the country to Arkansas" said Luke Naylor, waterfowl program coordinator for Game and Fish. "But over decades, those forests have slowly changed, and our management must change with them if we are to continue this great tradition of hunting flooded timber and providing waterfowl with the habitat they need."

Many hunters are accustomed to constant high water near the opening day of waterfowl season, but according to research in Arkansas and other states with greentree reservoirs, the practice has damaged many of the trees that produce the acorns ducks need.

"Flooding before a tree is dormant and doing so consistently causes damage," Naylor said. "Most hunters will tell you there often are plenty of green leaves on the trees during the opening week of duck season. We need to begin managing our greentree reservoirs to follow more natural flooding patterns, which typically occur later and fluctuate from year to year."

Game and Fish has also produced a mailing, which details the situation. It will be delivered to Arkansans who have purchased a waterfowl stamp in the last three years and nonresidents who have purchased a waterfowl wildlife management permit in the last three years. A digital version of the mailing is available at www.agfc.com.

Sports on 03/07/2017