Arkansas Game and Fish Commission passes new hunting regulations

Posted: May 18, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission passed new hunting regulations for the 2018-2019 hunting seasons, voted to obtain new public fishing access areas on the White and Little Red rivers, and approved a funding mechanism for restoring bobwhite quail habitat Thursday at its monthly meeting in Little Rock.

The regulations package contains 57 items, many of which clarify or simplify existing regulations. One item will make it legal to take deer with big bore air rifles. Legal air rifles for taking deer must be at least .40-caliber that produce a minimum of 400-foot pounds of muzzle energy and that are charged from an external tank and propels a single expandable slug. Air rifles meeting these criteria also would be allowed for taking deer in Deer Management Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B.

Steven Fowler, assistant chief of the commission's wildlife management division, said public comments supporting the regulation outnumbered comments opposing it. He also said many opponents misunderstood the proposal.

"A lot of them didn't understand what was meant by big bore air rifle," Fowler said. "They thought it meant BB guns."

The commission also opened a limited alligator season in Alligator Management Zone 2, which includes south central Arkansas and portions of several counties bounded by Interstate 40, Arkansas 10, Arkansas 27 and Arkansas 247.

Other items included:

• Adding Benton, Crawford, Franklin, Sebastian and Washington counties to the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone.

• Removing the three-point rule from counties in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone.

• Establishing a tier-based carcass movement restriction system for the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone. Tier 1 will include Boone, Carroll, Madison and Newton counties. Tier 2 will include Benton, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Pope, Searcy, Marion, Sebastian, Yell, Washington and Van Buren counties. This will restrict the movement of entire carcasses from counties with a higher apparent prevalence to areas with a lower apparent prevalence, and to counties where chronic wasting disease has not been identified.

• Requiring any youth that has not successfully completed a hunter education course that is participating in a youth hunt to be accompanied by a mentor who is at least 21 years old.

• Reducing the cost of private land elk hunting permits from $35 to $5.

• Increasing the archery bear quota in Bear Zone 1 from 205 to 250.

• Allowing holders of controlled deer hunting permits at Ed Gordon Point Remove, Harold E. Alexander Spring River, Madison County and Gulf Mountain WMAs to take bears during the controlled hunts outside of the Bear Zone 1 quota.

• Making it a Class 3 violation to exceed the season bag limit for alligator, bear, deer, elk and wild turkey.

• Requiring hunters to be off the water on WMAs by 1 p.m.

• Removing waterfowl bag limit restrictions at Bayou Meto WMA. Previously, hunters were allowed to kill only three ducks per day on the area.

The commission also established a voluntary quail stamp to assist in funding the commission's upland habitat restoration efforts. The stamp will cost $4.50.

In fisheries management business, the commission approved a budget increase of $100,000 to purchase 0.68 acres on the Little Red River at Winkley Shoals, across the river from the Barnett Access. Ben Batten, the commission's assistant chief of fisheries, said the commission has made many habitat improvements in the area, which is very popular for wade fishermen. The property will increase access, Batten said.

Also, the commission accepted a donation of 7 acres from Charles McClure on the White River within the Rim Shoals Catch and Release Area. Batten said this will improve access to a popular fishing area.

Sports on 05/18/2018