Public Hearings Scheduled Regarding Dove Hunting Season Regulations

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The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) will hold three public hearings to receive input on proposed changes to the dove season structure for the 2008-2009 season. The purpose of the proposed regulation changes is to manage Georgia’s migratory game birds according to sound principles of wildlife management and to meet public objectives for use of these renewable natural resources. Those interested are encouraged to bring these hearings to the attention of others who also may wish to participate.

In March, WRD proposed regulations that would modify the current structure of the dove season based on public input that indicated a desire for more late season (January) dove hunting. More specifically, this proposal sought to reduce the September season by six days and place those days in January to provide more late-season opportunity. Based on public input, this proposal sought to shift the October season one week later and provide full-day hunting on the opening date in October.

Since this proposal was put before the public, WRD held four public hearings at which there was support (Bainbridge), opposition (Gainesville), a draw (Claxton) and no comments (Hamilton) regarding this proposal. Through additional written and electronically submitted comments, WRD received escalating widespread public comment in opposition to the reduction of the September dove season. In consideration of the growing opposition to shortening the September season, WRD has reconsidered the original proposal.

Dove hunter opinions are regionally diverse on the distribution of available days for establishing a dove hunting season. Under the regulatory frameworks established nationally by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), there is no season structure that will satisfy all dove hunting interests in Georgia. As such, WRD must balance the diverse regional public desires to provide reasonable statewide allocation of dove hunting days in September, October and November – January.

To this end, WRD is recommending a dove season structure that, 1. maintains the current days in the September and November – January seasons; 2. shifts the October season back one week, and; 3. provides full-day hunting on the October opening day. WRD believes this proposal is the best compromise in balancing regional public desires for the mourning dove season while conforming to Federal regulations.

Members of the general public will have an opportunity to provide input at the following WRD-sponsored public hearings:

-Monday, May 19, 2008/The Farmer’s Market/2055 Eisenhower Pkwy./Macon

-Tuesday, May 20, 2008/Coal Mountain Park -Community Building/3560 Settingdown Road/Cumming

-Wednesday, May 21, 2008/Tift County Agricultural Services Center/1468 Carpenter Rd., S/Tifton

Any participant at the hearing may present data, make a statement or comment or offer a viewpoint or argument, either orally or in writing. Statements should be concise to permit everyone an opportunity to speak. Participants are required to register upon arrival and notify the registering official of their intent to give a statement. Those unable to attend the hearings may submit statements electronically through the WRD website at www.gohuntgeorgia.com or by mail prior to close of business May 21, 2008. Written statements should be mailed to:

Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Wildlife Resources Division/Game Management Section/Attn: John Bowers/2070 U.S. Highway 278, S.E./Social Circle, Georgia 30025

These meetings are accessible to people with physical disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to John Bowers at the above address by May 16, 2008.

The Board of Natural Resources will consider the proposed changes and any comments received during the public hearing process May 28, 2008 at 9 a.m. at the DNR Boardroom at 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 1252, Atlanta, Georgia.

For more information on the scheduled public hearings or to view the proposed regulation changes, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com.  For additional information, contact WRD’s Hunter Services office at (770) 761-3045.