Just as the final pages of the May issue of GON were being sent to the printing press—and too late for the legislative report on page 14 of the May issue of GON to be changed—the governor of Georgia signed an executive directing DNR to take up the Northern Zone baiting issue. Based on the executive order, DNR will look at doing away with the Southern Zone and Northern Zone distinction.
There was significant political wrangling over the Northern Zone baiting issue during the last hours of the legislative session as politicians debated the current law. Since 2011, the law has allowed hunters in the southern half of the state to hunt deer with no distance restriction from supplemental feed, while Northern Zone deer hunters could be charged with a crime for hunting deer within 200 yards or in sight of placed feed. GON heard from representatives and senators who were unhappy and concerned about how the issue was handled during the session.
After the legislative session ended, Gov. Deal signed the following executive order, provided below in the exact wording as signed:
Whereas: In 2011, HB 277 was enacted, providing a framework for deer hunters in this state practicing supplemental feeding; and
Whereas: Since 2011, the Department of Natural Resources has found no evidence that hunting over feed has directly impacted deer harvest numbers, nor has the Department observed any direct evidence of disease linked to supplemental feeding in Georgia; and
Whereas: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 27-3-9 and 27-3-15, the Board of Natural Resources is authorized to establish Northern and Southern deer hunting zones based on sound wildlife management principles; and
Whereas: In the Southern Zone of the state hunters may hunt within two hundred yards of feed, while those in the Northern Zone may not; and
Whereas: Such a distinction produces an inequity among licensed hunters based on geography which is not necessarily tied to deer population and abundance;
NOW, THEREFORE, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, IT IS HERBY
Ordered: That the Department of Natural Resources evaluate and determine an appropriate expansion of the Southern Zone and present such findings to the Board for action based on sound wildlife management principles.
Gov. Deal’s executive order will give DNR time to set new rules for the upcoming 2018-2019 deer season.
GON will have more details on what this means for Northern Zone and Southern Zone deer hunters. Check for updates online at www.gon.com and in the June issue of the magazine.