It is February, and it’s the season for hunting rule change proposals in Arkansas.
The list coming out of the wildlife folks at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is lengthy. But they are minor for the most part, and many apply to specific wildlife management areas.
One proposal of interest is aimed at raccoons. The cute little things are overrunning us. Raccoons are egg-eaters, and biologists and many hunters blame them — in part — for the turkey numbers drop, for our lack of quail restoration success, for preying on pretty songbirds and maybe for the flat tire or dead battery of the vehicle in the driveway.
The proposal from Game and Fish’s Wildlife Management Division is to remove bag limits for coon hunting. Season dates for raccoon hunting and trapping would remain the same, and these were liberalized a while back. The no-limit rule would apply to both private and public land.
Yes, someone or several someones may fuss about this proposal, but it will find favor with a good many other someones, especially turkey hunters.
Other proposals being considered for the 2014-15 season:
• Add a doe to the firearms bag limit in Deer Zones 2, 3, 6, 6A, 8, 8A and 10.
• Allow captive wildlife, excluding cervids (deer family), which originate within Arkansas and leave the state for less than 30 days, to re-enter the state without the need for a veterinary examination.
• Allow AGFC to immediately relocate captive wildlife being given improper care by rehabilitators, being kept in inhumane or in unhealthy conditions. Prohibit possession of native wildlife pets by rehabilitators except under certain conditions.
• Add a deer modern gun (restricted to shotgun/muzzleloader) permit hunt (10 permits) Nov. 8-12 with a two-deer limit; one buck (3-point rule applies) and one doe on Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA.
• Move the deer modern gun youth permit hunt to the weekend before the statewide November youth hunt (Oct. 25-26) on Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA.
• Make it illegal to discharge or possess fireworks on commission-owned or controlled property.
• Establish turkey permit hunts (three weekends) on Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA.
• Establish turkey permit hunts (three weekends) on Galla Creek WMA.
• Establish a five-day muzzleloader deer permit hunt for Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA.
• Change the minimum antler criteria on Lafayette County WMA from the four-point rule to a 12-inch inside spread or 15-inch main beam rule.
• Move the modern gun deer hunt a week later (Nov. 1-5) on Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA.
• Add Lake Greeson (excluding mobility impaired hunters hunting during the mobility-impaired permit hunt) and Howard County WMAs into the leased land permit system requiring a leased land permit ($40).
• Remove the hunter education requirement for youth hunters 6-15 years of age participating in WMA permit hunts.
• Allow the harvest of feral hogs only during bear, deer and elk firearms seasons on certain WMAs.
• Prohibit the harvest of feral hogs at any time on certain WMAs.
Close all hunting seasons from Jan. 5 to March 31, and prohibit horses and mules from Feb. 1 to March 31, on Harold E. Alexander Spring River WMA.
Written comments may be mailed by March 1 to the Game and Fish Commission, Attn: Hunting Regulations Proposals, 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, AR 72205.
(Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)