Deer Harvest Up From Previous Year

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LITTLE ROCK – Commissioners from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission were briefed today on the state’s recent deer season harvest. Brad Miller, AGFC deer program coordinator, told the Commission the harvest was up almost 4,200 deer from the 2006-07 season.

The northwest part of the state saw the greatest harvest increase from the previous year, Miller explained. “I think that can be attributed to the Easter freeze of 2007.”  Zone 3 in north central Arkansas had the greatest increase in harvest with a 41 percent increase in deer taken as compared to the previous season. Deer harvest numbers also were up along the Mississippi River in extreme eastern Arkansas.

Last year’s late April freezing temperatures damaged vegetation across much of Arkansas. Trees and shrubs began to produce tender leaves early because of record high temperatures, which were followed by the freeze. Miller said that the hard mast production, such as acorns, was reduced due to the Easter freeze. “Limited mast production often increases hunting success,” he said.

Deer harvest numbers stayed essentially the same in the southwestern corner of the state. Harvest numbers were down in the northeast and southeast portions of the state. Zone 16A had the largest drop in harvest with a 39 percent decrease.

Miller also briefed the Commission on deer depredation issues to farmers in Chicot County. Deer near the Mississippi River were displaced by the April floods and were destroying crops in surrounding agricultural lands. “We received some complaints, primarily in fields near the Mississippi River Levee in Chicot County. We worked with the media, hunting clubs and landowners to address the problem,” he said.

In other Commission business:

 *Commissioners were presented with a proposal recommending a zone doe quota permit not be required to harvest a doe during the Christmas holiday hunt in deer zones 2 and 3. The proposal is a result of concerns about increasing numbers of deer observed in the area. If approved at the June commission meeting, the regulation would go into effect for the 2008 Christmas deer hunt in those zones.

*A proposal to address the growing concern with feral hogs was presented to the commission. Doyle Shook, the AGFC chief of wildlife management, said that feral hogs pose significant problems on the agency’s Wildlife Management Areas. “They’re causing widespread habitat damage and destruction. A recent survey of WMA managers highlighted the significant amount of effort that is being expended to attempt to control these animals,” Shook explained.

If approved, the regulation change would require a hunting license to kill hogs on WMAs and hogs could only be killed during an open hunting season or special permit hunt. The proposed regulation would also give 30 violation points to people who release hogs on a WMA.

*Approved a proclamation by Gov. Mike Beebe to start free fishing weekend at noon, June 6 to end at midnight, June 8. Licenses will not be required for fishing in Arkansas during that period.

*Approved a land exchange, with the State Land Commissioner, of an isolated 80-acre tract in Jefferson County. The tract is about six miles from Bayou Meto WMA, which is the closest public land owned by the agency. The AGFC received the land in 1949 after the owner forfeited it to the state for failure to pay taxes. The land was encumbered with a prohibition that prevents the AGFC from selling or trading the land. The AGFC has agreed to pay the back taxes on the land with the Land Commissioner then providing the AGFC with a reversion deed for the 80 acres. The new deed will then be clear of the restrictions on selling or trading the acreage.

*Approved the purchase of gravel and the cost of resurfacing the road accessing Mallard Lake and Big Lake WMA in northeast Arkansas. The project is expected to cost about $110,000. Mississippi County has agreed to prepare the road bed and haul the gravel.