AGFC to Vote on CWD Prevention Plan

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by Shannon Cay

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is expected to vote on a plan to fight Chronic Wasting Diseases at a special meeting today.

A release from the commission says officials will attempt to adopt new regulations preventing the spread of the fatal disease affecting the deer and elk population in Northwest Arkansas.

Some of these regulations include the AGFC establishing a management zone, where landowners would be issued extra deer tags. They would then be required to submit samples of the deer they kill for testing.

Cory Gray, AGFC deer program coordinator, says that while scientific studies haven’t shown the disease poses a danger to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have advised against humans consuming positive-testing animals.

He says the infected deer have mostly been found in Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties. However, Gray adds, deer are mobile and could spread the disease to the rest of the state. The meeting will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the AGFC offices in Little Rock.

Release from AGFC:

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard modified proposals to help slow the spread of chronic wasting disease in Arkansas at its June meeting today at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce.

Regulations concerning CWD originally were presented at the Commission’s May 19 meeting. Since that time, AGFC staff has gathered public comments through 11 public meetings, a statewide call-in television show on AETN and an online public survey.

“Almost all of the questions and concerns we have received focus on the elimination of supplemental feeding on a statewide basis,” said AGFC Chief of Staff Jeff Crow. “We have modified that proposal to only apply to the 10 counties in our proposed CWD management zone.”

The following modified proposals will be voted on during a June 24 special meeting of the Commission:

  • Establish a CWD management zone consisting of Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell counties.
  • Prohibit feeding within the CWD management zone, except:

o    Baiting will be allowed Oct. 1-Dec. 31 for hunting.

o    Food plots will be allowed.

o    Incidental feeding of wildlife during active livestock operations will be allowed.

o    Backyard bird feeding will be allowed.

o    Grain scattered or distributed from normal agricultural practices will be allowed.

o    Feeding of wildlife by hand (e.g. ducks at the pond) will be allowed.

o    Bait for AGFC-approved management, research and control of wildlife will be allowed.

  • Issue extra deer tags to landowners within the CWD management zone, to help decrease deer density. Hunters using these tags will be required to submit samples of harvested deer for CWD testing.
  • Deer and elk killed within the CWD management zone must remain within that zone, except:

o    Deboned meat

o    Cleaned skull plates

o    Hides

o    Teeth

o    Taxidermy products

  • Prohibit scents and lures containing natural deer urine statewide.
  • Prohibit rehabilitation of deer statewide.
  • Liberalize season structure on public and private land where CWD is present by lifting antler restrictions and increasing bag limits.
  • Establish a core elk management area consisting of Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties.

o    Hunters outside of the core elk management zone may take any elk they see while deer hunting with a limit of one elk, either sex.

o    Increase the quota on private land elk hunting within the core elk management zone.

  • All elk harvested statewide must be submitted for CWD testing.
  • Create a non-commercial hunting enclosure permit for all high-fence deer facilities.

o    Require CWD samples from all deer that die in these facilities.

o    Require annual inspections in these facilities.

o    Require facilities to maintain accurate harvest records.

o    No new permits will be issued after July 1, 2017.

The Commission is expected to make an official vote on these regulations during a special meeting June 24. The Commission will continue to accept public comments on proposed regulations via online survey at www.agfc.com.

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