Meetings Scheduled to Discuss Elk Hunting in Tennessee

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | 07:00pm

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has set two public meetings to discuss the possibility of establishing a quota permit elk hunt in the fall of 2007. As part of the process for public involvement in the decision-making process, TWRA will host two public meetings in East Tennessee to present information on the hunt proposals that are being considered. The public meetings will include presentations on the elk herd status, an explanation of the hunt proposals under consideration, and an opportunity for public input.

Meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • 26, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. EDT - Cove Lake State Park, Take Exit 134 off I-75 and turn East on Hwy 63. The Park entrance is approximately ½ mile on the left.
  • November 2, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. EST - John Sevier Hunter Education Center, Directions: take the Broadway Exit off I-640 and go approximately 4 miles north on Broadway, turn left on Rifle Range Rd. The John Sevier is on the right approximately 2 miles west on Rifle Range Rd.

In May 2006, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was directed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission to investigate the feasibility and processes necessary to establish an elk hunt in 2007.

At its September meeting in Nashville, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission heard a preliminary report on the possibility of establishing an elk hunt in Tennessee.

The report, prepared following a request last May from the commission, suggested the possibility of establishing a hunting season for elk as early as 2007.

“This is a very preliminary report,” TWRA Chief of Wildlife Greg Wathen warned. “Whether or not the agency will recommend an elk season will depend on the results of a more intensive study of the status of Tennessee’s elk herd and its survival and reproduction rates which will be conducted this winter. A recommendation on how to set up the hunt will be made to the commission at its December meeting, after the Agency has had an opportunity to take public comments.”

Included in the report, made to the commission at the September meeting, were assessments of the possible effects of a hunting season based on models developed in some of the western states where elk hunting is common. The report also examined the results of elk programs in several eastern states where elk have been reintroduced.

There are currently six eastern states with elk herds,” Wathen said. “The elk herds in Arkansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania are among the states we particularly looked at. Arkansas reintroduced elk in 1981 with 112 animals released. That herd has now grown to approximately 400 to 450 animals. Kentucky began a much larger reintroduction program in 1997 where some 1500 animals were reintroduced during a 4 year time period.

“If an elk hunting season is proposed, it would probably be a strictly limited hunt taking place in mid-October and only on public lands,” Wathen added. “And there are several alternatives that the Agency is considering, including quota hunts similar to Tennessee’s current big game quota hunt system, quota hunts with an application fee, and issuing a permit to non-profit conservation organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which would use the permit for fund raising to help pay for the state’s elk management program. Funds raised from application fees or permits issued to non-profit groups would be directed back into the elk management program to help cover the costs of that program.”

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission enacted several commercial fishing regulation changes, which will be in effect before the upcoming paddlefish season. The closure date of the statewide season was changed. The season now opens on November 15 and closes on April 7. The statewide paddlefish season applies to all waters open to commercial paddlefish harvest, except the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River paddlefish season will still run from November 15 through April 15. The TWRC also passed a regulation that allows commercial roe fishers to check paddlefish for eggs with a stainless steel 12-gauge needle. The needle may be inserted into the abdomen of paddlefish between the pectoral and pelvic fins. This syringe and needle assembly (commonly known as a meat injector) must be kept on board all roe fishing vessels in a sanitary matter.

The TWRC voted to roll consideration of the TWRA budget for 2007/2008 to the next meeting, set for October 18 and 19, which will be held at the Holiday Inn Cedar Bluff, in Knoxville.

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