WRD has released proposed hunting regulations for the next two hunting seasons, and they are asking the public to make comments on them. Changes includes more either-sex deer-hunting days and a number of changes on WMAs.
Three public hearings will be held April 11-13, and hunters may also comment electronically through Survey Monkey.
“The purpose of hunting regulations is to manage renewable wildlife resources consistent with the scientific principles of wildlife management, while meeting public objectives for wise use of these resources,” said Tina Johannsen, Operations Manager with the Game Management Section. “At this point in the process, we are interested in public comments specific to the proposed changes under consideration.”
The entire proposed package is on the WRD website.
Proposed regulation changes include:
• Increased Doe Days: Increased either-sex opportunity in the Piedmont and Ridge and Valley regions by 22 days to a total of 72 either-sex hunting days. Buck-only hunting in January would no longer exist in these areas. Hunting for either-sex deer would run from Nov. 4, 2017-Jan. 14, 2018 and Nov. 3, 2018– Jan. 13, 2019.
• Central Georgia Bears: Change the one-day central Georgia bear season from the second Saturday in December to the second Saturday in January. WRD states, “UGA research shows most females with cubs start denning in early January, thus the proposed change should decrease the proportion of females in the harvest to a level consistent with Georgia’s bear management plan.”
• Waterfowl on Lake Blackshear: Establishes a new rule on Lake Blackshear requiring that hunters to be at least 300 feet from docks, structures, etc. WRD states, “The proposed rule for Lake Blackshear is responsive to public input and the Crisp County Power Authority to address private property complaints consistent with rules on similar lakes.”
• New Gator Counties: Add the following 10 counties to the zones open for hunting alligators; Baldwin, Columbia, Hancock, Harris, Jones, McDuffie, Monroe, Talbot, Upson and Warren counties.
The following proposed changes have to do with WMAs.
• Late May Coyote and Hog Season: WRD is proposing daytime hog and coyote hunting opportunities on WMAs from May 16-31. Hunters could use any legal firearm allowed for big- or small-game hunting. WRD states, “This change is responsive to public input desiring more opportunity for feral hog and coyote hunting. Not only can WMA hunters take feral hogs and coyotes during any hunt on WMAs, but with this change practically every WMA will be open for feral hog and coyote hunting at a time that will benefit native wildlife and provide more hunting opportunity.”
• Youth Big-game Hunts: Currently, adults may shoot an animal on non-quota WMA big-game hunts if they have a child with them. A proposed change would mean only the youth could kill an animal on all adult/child hunts. WRD states, “Many youth big-game hunts on WMAs are not quota. Unfortunately, some adults abuse these by hunting with a youth who does not.”
• Suppressors: Unless otherwise prohibited, it would become legal to hunt with silenced or suppressed weapons on WMAs.
• Small-game sign-in: Require sign-in for WMA small-game hunts. WRD states, “Currently only some regions require WMA sign-in. WMA hunters who hunt big game are accustomed to sign-in requirements. Having an on-line and an onsite sign-in option will minimize impacts on hunter convenience while providing the regions better data to inform WMA small-game hunting regulation decisions.”
• Maximize small-game hunting opportunities: WRD is proposing an increase in small-game hunting on WMAs to the greatest extent possible on every WMA. WRD states, “Experience on some WMAs (e.g. Redlands WMA) has shown no perceptible conflict in allowing small-game dates concurrent with big-game dates, as WMA users generally self-regulate. This proposal is responsive to public input.”
Three public hearings are scheduled to provide the public an opportunity to share their comments on the proposed hunting regulation changes. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.
• April 11, 2017: Go Fish Education Center, 1255 Perry Parkway, Perry, GA
• April 12, 2017: Forsyth Conference Center, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd., Cumming, GA
• April 13, 2017: Sports Complex and Civic Center, 786 Austin Avenue East, Pearson, GA
Any participant wanting to speak at a public hearing must register upon arrival and notify the registering official of their intent to give a statement.
Those unable to attend one of the public meetings may submit input electronically through Survey Monkey. Hunters can also send a written statement to: GA DNR/Wildlife Resources Division/Game Management Section; Attn: Tina Johannsen; 2067 U.S. Highway 278, S.E.; Social Circle, Georgia 30025.
Hunters also have the option to call in their comments to (770) 918-6404.
All hunter input must be received by WRD by 4:30 p.m. on April 21, 2017.
Hunters wishing to share their thoughts with GON and possible have their comments published in “Letter,” e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your comments below.