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In the wild

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The Game and Fish Commission set duck season dates today, among other stuff. It continued to take no action on requests from scientists and environmentalists to curb the commercial turtle harvest. The fear is both that wild turtle populations are being depleted and that their meat, mostly exported, is unsafe.

NEWS RELEASE

LITTLE ROCK - For the 13th consecutive season, waterfowlers in Arkansas
will have a 60-day season to pursue their passion. Waterfowl season was
set by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at today's monthly meeting
at the agency's headquarters in Little Rock.

Duck season dates are Nov. 21-Nov. 29, Dec. 10-Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-Jan.
31. The youth waterfowl hunt will be Dec. 5-6. The statewide Canada
goose season will be Sept. 1-15 (bag limit five) and Jan. 10-Feb. 1 (bag
limit two).

Duck bag limits will be no more than 6 ducks consisting of:

4 mallards

3 wood ducks

2 redheads

1 black duck

1 pintail

1 canvasback

1 mottled duck

2 scaup

Bag limits on Bayou Meto WMA were changed to allow two mallard hens
instead of one and three wood ducks instead of two. The daily bag limit
remains at four ducks with no more than three mallards on Bayou Meto.

Northwest Canada goose zone season will be Sept. 26-Oct. 5 with a bag
limit of 2 geese. The statewide Canada goose season will be Sept. 1-15
with a bag limit of 5 geese and Dec. 26-Jan. 31 with a bag limit of 2
geese.

White-fronted goose season will be Nov. 14-Dec. 5, Dec. 12-Dec. 24 and
Dec. 26-Jan. 31 with a bag limit of 2 geese. Snow, blue and Ross' goose
season is Nov. 7-Dec. 24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 31 with a bag limit of 20
geese. The Snow Goose Conservation Order will be Feb. 1-April 25, 2010
with no bag limit.

A proposal to restrict boat motors to 25 horsepower on several WMAs
around the state was tabled. One amendment to the proposal was offered
by Commissioner George Dunklin. His amendment would allow boats on the
Henry Gray Hurricane Lake and Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMAs with up to 50
horsepower motors. The commission did approve a regulation restricting
boats from the Government Cypress Greentree Reservoir within Bayou Meto
WMA.

AGFC trout biologist Jeff Williams made a lengthy presentation on the
2010 trout fishing proposed regulations. The main topic that Williams
covered was a proposed expansion of the catch-and-release area on the
North Fork River from 1 mile to 2.6 miles in length.

Williams told the commission that public meetings held since 2007
indicated that anglers on the river desired larger trout. Williams also
pointed out that angling pressure on the North Fork is three times
higher than any other trout water in the state. "There are over 41,000
angling hours per mile on the Norfork Tailwaters as compared to just
over  11,800 angling hours per mile on the Bull Shoals Tailwater,"
Williams explained.

Commissioner Ron Pierce said that he would like the south end of the
catch-and-release area moved back closer to the Bill Ackerman Access
Area on the North Fork. Commissioners will vote on the proposals at
their September meeting.

In other business, the Commission heard a proposal by Commissioner Emon
Mahony to close the 2009 fall firearms and archery turkey hunting
seasons.

           When speaking about the recent decline in turkey harvest,
Mahony said, "We've had low preliminary poult counts and the only remedy
of which I am aware is to restrict the harvest."

           The proposal will be voted on at the Commission's September
meeting.

           The Commission voted to take no action on the requested
restriction of turtle harvest in Arkansas until sufficient research on
the impact of commercial harvest in Arkansas and the accumulation of
toxins in Arkansas turtles could be completed. The request was
originally filed by a coalition including the Arkansas River Coalition,
the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas, Center for Biological
Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for North American
Herpetology, and the Center for Reptile and Amphibian Conservation and
Management.

The Commission also renamed Choctaw Island Wildlife Management Area to
Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA and Deer Research Area. The WMA lies in
southeastern Arkansas and is the only AGFC-owned land between the levees
of the Mississippi River. It was named for former commissioner Freddie
Black in honor of his service to the Commission. During Black's tenure,
the AGFC launched a successful shooting sports program, National Archery
in the Schools Program and procured many new hunting lands for the
public, including Choctaw Island.

 

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