The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency presented a preview of its proposals for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 hunting and trapping seasons at the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s April meeting.
The two-day meeting included various presentations on what is involved in the seasons-setting process, and regulations in regard to big game, small game, the use of raptors for hunting, and wildlife management area regulations. Various changes were recommended on wildlife management areas, public hunting areas, and national wildlife refuges.
One of the notable proposals by TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division staff was a change in the definition of an antlered deer. The agency made a recommendation to return to a previous definition of an antlered deer. If approved by the commission, a deer with antlers under three inches in length would once again be categorized as antlerless and not count toward a hunter’s buck bag limit.
In 2016, the commission changed the definition of what qualifies as an antlered deer to having any antler protruding above the hairline. Among reasons given for returning to the old definition were comments received by TWRA from hunters expressing a desire to return to the three-inch regulation.
Since a limited elk hunt was established in 2009, one of the permits issued had been given to a non-governmental organization to be auctioned with the funds raised going to the elk restoration program. This year, rather than the auction, a raffle will be conducted where individuals may purchase as many tickets as they wish for $10 each for the opportunity to participate in the hunt.
Elk Hunting Zone 1 would be the designated area for the elk permit holder and would be allowed an additional seven hunting days in any open elk zone following the regular gun hunt. Another proposed change would require applicants to choose their elk hunting zone of choice when they apply for an elk quota hunt.
The state’s black bear harvest last year was 548, the fourth highest on record. Some proposed adjustments this year include moving a portion of the existing weekday opportunities to weekends, which the agency believes would allow more young sportsmen to participate.
TWRA wildlife managers presented changes to their various regional wildlife management areas. The proposals to the WMAs will be placed on the TWRA website, along with other hunt proposals for the next two hunting seasons.
TWRA has recently detected whirling disease in trout populations of the South Holston and Watauga rivers. In a presentation by TWRA Fisheries Division’s Brandon Simcox, he described the disease, its possible impacts, and how TWRA is responding to the recent finding. Updated information about whirling disease can be found on the TWRA website.
Among other happenings at the April meeting, Delta Waterfowl Foundation’s Jeffrey Howell discussed the missions and programs for the organization in the United States and Canada.
A public comment period on the proposals presented will be open until May 14, and a link to the proposed changes will be available for viewing soon on the TWRA website. The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will set the regulations for the next two years at its May 17-18 meeting in Nashville.