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TWRC Holds First Meeting of 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012 | 04:09am
CHATTANOOGA  --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission completed its first meeting of 2012 Friday, making slight changes to a rule in regard to waterfowl blind drawings and addressed proclamations in reference to elk hunting and wild hogs.
 
The Fisheries Division gave a pair of presentations in regard to an update on fisheries research and the possibility of conducting a plan to study the sustainability of establishing commercial paddlefish roe fishing on those waters currently not open to commercial fishing in the state.
 
The commission took action to amend the rule regarding computerized waterfowl blind drawings. The new rule will allow waterfowl hunters to apply as a party on select Wildlife Management Areas. The three affected WMAs are Bogota, Thorny Cypress in West Tennessee and Chickamauga in East Tennessee. The purpose of the rule change is to increase participation during the waterfowl hunts.
 
The TWRC voted to table the elk proclamation until the February meeting. The agency is exploring the possibility of adding a youth only elk hunting tag. A public comment period will begin later this month concerning input for the addition of the tag. The additional tag would be for a Tennessee youth between the ages of 13-16.
 
The commission received an update on the elk restoration program. Elk were reintroduced to Tennessee in 2001 and the population is experiencing an estimated growth of about 8 percent per year. About 300 animals are residing on the North Cumberland WMA which is comprised of 150,000 acres.
 
The TWRA announced that a black bear public opinion survey is being conducted for selected target areas. The TWRA is exploring the possibility of making changes to its black bear management policy. The results of the survey will assist in making those decisions.
 
On a recommendation made by the TWRA, the TWRC voted to extend the expiration date for landowners to allow lease holders to assist with wild hog eradication efforts. The period was extended until July 31, 2013 from Feb. 28, 2012.
 
A presentation was made to the TWRC by Dr. Phil Bettoli of the Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit at Tennessee Tech University. The presentation gave details of historical and current fisheries research the unit has performed for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Dr. Bettoli presented several examples of how much of the research has been used in management applications and decisions on fisheries resources in the state.
 
TWRA presented the plan at the TWRC’s December meeting to study the sustainability of a commercial paddlefish roe fisheries on waters not currently open to commercial fishing in the state. 
 
A law passed by the general assembly during the last legislative session, directed the agency to develop a plan to study sustainability, population conditions, and juvenile survival rates of paddlefish and other roe producing fish on waters not currently open to commercial fishing. Those waters include Cordell Hull, Norris, Watts Barr, and Melton Hill lakes and a currently restricted section of Old Hickory Lake.
 
 The agency had a comment period in regard to the plan that began following the December TWRC meeting. Prior to the meeting, the agency had received more than 200 comments from the public which were unanimously against the proposal.
 
The 21st Annual Sandhill Crane Festival is being held Jan. 14-15 at the Hiwassee Refuge, located north of Chattanooga. Dan Hicks, Region III Information and Education Coordinator gave an outline of the event’s agenda. About 15,000 sandhill cranes are currently being reported at the refuge. The TWRA is one of the hosting partners for the event.
 
 TWRC Chairman William Brown appointed a committee comprised of board members Julie Schuster, Jim Bledsoe, and Eric Wright to bring nominations to the TWRC at next month’s meeting for the commission’s officers for 2012-13.
 
The TWRC will next meet in Nashville on Feb. 9-10 at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building.
---TWRA---

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