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TWRA Makes Hunting Seasons’ Proposals During April Meeting

Friday, April 15, 2011 | 11:31am
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency presented its 2011-12 hunting seasons proposals to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission during the April meeting held Thursday-Friday at the Ray Bell Region II Building.
The preview gave the commission several major changes in hunting seasons to consider for 2011-12 would also be in effect for the 2012-13 seasons as well. The TWRC will set the 2011-12 seasons at its May meeting.
New TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division Chief Daryl Ratajczak said the agency is proposing to keep consistent regulations for the sportsmen and sportswomen of Tennessee and to save considerable time and money not to recommend changes for 2012-13. The regulations to be effected include big game, small game, furbearer, manner and means, and TWRA managed Wildlife Management Areas. The TWRC could recommend changing any of the regulations at any time.
The TWRA Fisheries Division would follow suit to establish its regulations for a two-year period as well beginning in 2012. The Wildlife regulations would change on odd years and the fisheries regulations on even years.
Other major changes would include creating a continuous deer gun hunting season which would run from the traditional starting date of the Saturday before Thanksgiving through Jan. 1. Wild hogs will no longer be considered a big game animal and will be allowed to be taken at select WMAs during deer hunts.
Landowners would be given the ability to kill wild hogs by means not previously allowed. This includes all legal weapons and live trapping with bait outside of big game seasons.
The fall turkey season would be moved from December to October and the number of days would be increased from 12 to 14. Quail season would close the last day of January to help protect the resources and hopefully increase the quail population.
The list of proposed proclamations:
·        Proclamation 11-03      Proclaims Enterprise South Park WMA
o   Changes the name of Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant to Enterprise South Park.
·        Proclamation 11-04      Statewide Big Game Hunting Seasons
o   Deer - Create continuous gun season running from the first Saturday before Thanksgiving to Jan. 1st
o   Deer - Increase antlerless opportunities in Benton, Hamilton, Hardin, Monroe, Marion, Perry, Sevier, and Union counties.
o   Deer - Create a Red Deer season in a section of Claiborne County (Jan 14-22, 2012)
o   Wild Hog - Remove wild hogs from as a big game animal and allow wild hogs to be taken at select WMAs during deer hunts (will be listed in new Nonprotected Wildlife proclamation)
o   Black bear – Add 1 bear to the Young Sportsman hunts bag limit (TWRC Recommendation)
o   Turkey – Move fall turkey season from December to October and increase the number of days from 12 to 14 (Oct. 15 – 28)
o   Turkey – no changes to spring seasons
·        Proclamation 11-05      Importation of Cervid Carcasses and Parts
o   Add Allegheny County, Md. and Hardy County, W. Va. to the list of CWD containment areas
·        Proclamation 11-06      Statewide Small Game Seasons
o   Close quail season on last day of January to protect the resource
o   Remove unprotected animals (placed in new Nonprotected Wildlife proclamation)
o   Small game hunters (except quail hunters) should get two straight months (Jan.-Feb.) with no big game seasons
·        Proclamation 11-07      Statewide Furbearer Hunting and Trapping
o   Remove nutria (placed in new Nonprotected Wildlife proclamation)
·        Proclamation 11-08      Statewide Nonprotected Wildlife - New
o   Add House Sparrow, European Starling, Rock Pigeon, Nutria, and Wild Hog to the list of nonprotected and destructive species
o   Create manner and means for landowners to handle nonprotected wildlife
o   Includes all legal weapons, live traps with bait (outside of big game seasons), and a process to obtain exemptions which may allow the use of dogs in select areas (Overton, Fentress, Cumberland, Pickett counties), night-time shooting, and other methods as approved by TWRA
·        Proclamation 11-09      Wildlife Management Area Hunting Seasons
o   Wild hog hunting closed on all WMAs unless otherwise indicated
o   WMA quota permits will be reduced from a $20 refundable fee to a $10 non-refundable
o   Season adjustments on a few select WMAs
§ Region I – opens Dry Creek WMA (4,121 acres) to big game, small game
§ Region II – add hunts at Williamsport WMA
§ Region III – Allow hogs to be taken on S. Cherokee, Bridgestone, and Catoosa during deer hunts and increase raccoon seasons in S. Cherokee (includes Tellico/Ocoee bear reserves). Increase opportunity on Chickamauga waterfowl draw hunts.
§ Region IV – allow hogs to be taken on hunts in N. Cherokee, North Cumberland, Foothills, and Kyker Bottoms
·        Proclamation 11-10      National Wildlife Refuge Hunting seasons
o   Adjust season dates accordingly
o   Remove armadillo and wild hog
o   Add hunts to Hatchie and Tennessee National
·        Proclamation 11-11      Manner and Means of Hunting, Taking, and Trapping
o   Remove gauge restrictions for turkey hunting (legalizes .410)
o   Change caliber restrictions for muzzleloaders from .40 to .36 for big game
o   Remove requirement that broadheads need to be of barbless design
o   Add chasing of rabbits during night-time hours to a legal training activity
·        Proclamation 11-12      Taking of Raptors for the Purpose of Falconry
·        Add process of drawing a permit to take peregrines according to Federal guidelines.
In other business at the meeting, the commission voted to approve the new statewide non-protected wildlife (proclamation 11-08). In addition, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently took action to give the states the option of taking over the falconry permitting process.  By passing this rule, the commission accepted the responsibility for permitting falconers in the future.
The TWRC will hold its next meeting on May 19-20 in Nashville at Ray Bell Office Building. The June meeting also has been for the 16th-17th in Nashville.

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