Included in WRD’s proposed regulations changes, and open for public comment during meetings in April, are WMA user fees for non-sportsmen as well as significant changes to bear regulations, doe days in some northern counties, Northern Zone raccoon regulations and expanded hog hunting on public lands. Also, there are some new state park and WMA hunting opportunities that previously did not exist.
These changes, which would go into effect next season, will be put to a vote by the Board of Natural Resources on May 25. See DNR’s entire proposed regulations packet here.
Opportunities for public input will be available at three meetings this month (meetings start at 7 p.m.):
• Monday, April 18; Stuckey Conference Center/UGA Griffin Campus (1109 Experiment Street, Griffin).
• Tuesday, April 19; Coffee County Courthouse (101 South Peterson Avenue, Douglas).
• Thursday, April 21; Georgia Mountain Center (301 Main Street, SW, Gainesville).
Comments may also be submitted electronically through the DNR website at this link. Comments may be submitted by mail prior to close of business April 29. Address mailed comment to: Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, Game Management Section; Attn: John W. Bowers; 2070 U.S. Hwy 278, S.E.; Social Circle, GA 30025.
Highlights of the proposed regulations changes are as follows.
• WMA User Fees: A Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass (GORP) would be required for visitors, between the ages of 16 and 64, to designated areas on some Georgia WMAs. Exempt from the GORP requirement are hunters and anglers licensed to hunt or fish on WMAs.
GORP prices range from $3.50 for a 3-day individual pass to $35 for an annual group pass (maximum group size is eight members). Groups larger than eight members wishing to hold an event in designated fee areas must obtain a “Right of Entry” agreement, which may include the purchase of GORP passes equal to the number of participants as well as other stipulations.
GORP passes may be available on-line, by telephone or on-site. If adopted, this would become effective Jan. 1, 2012.
• Deer Seasons: Either-sex days in Banks, Franklin and Hart counties would be reduced to 26 days for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. They were previously under the regular Northern Zone regulations, which allowed either-sex harvest all season. Either-sex days during the 2011-12 season would be Oct. 29-30, Nov. 12-13, Nov. 19-Dec. 4, Dec. 26 – Jan. 1. Either-sex days during the 2012-13 season would be Oct. 27-28, Nov. 10-11, Nov. 17-Dec. 2, Dec. 26-Jan. 1.
• Deer Seasons: Either-sex days in Fannin, Rabun, Towns and Union counties would remain at eight days per season, but opening day of firearms season would not be included as an either-sex day.
• North Georgia Bears: Bag limit for mountain bears would increase from one to two.
• Middle Georgia Bears: Establish an annual one-day bear season on private property in Bibb, Houston and Twiggs counties. The one-day bear hunt on Ocmulgee WMA would be eliminated.
• Southern Zone Bears: Reduction of one of three check stations for harvested bears. Bear check-in would be available only at the Fargo and Waycross locations.
• Bear dog training: Establishment of regulations for bear dog training on public lands.
• Raccoon: Open north Georgia to raccoon trapping to allow for the practice statewide. Also, eliminate the raccoon-zone line and establish a uniform bag limit of three raccoons statewide.
• Blocking roads and trails: Some hunters are using rope, cabling, flagging, improvised signage and other methods to block access by other hunters to public hunting areas. This regulation change would prohibit this practice by non-departmental personnel.
• Coyote WMA hunts: Authorizes individual WMAs to specify special coyote hunts in addition to the already allowed coyote hunting during big-game and small-game hunts. 20 day March hunts are also proposed on Crockford Pigeon Mountain, J.L. Lester and Pine Log WMAs.
• Feral hog hunting: Several changes are proposed to expand feral hog hunting opportunities on WMAs by providing for special hog hunts, harvest of hogs during small- and big-game seasons and special hog hunts that allow dog hunting.
• Dog hunting on WMAs: Allow hunters to pursue bears or feral hogs with dogs on specified WMAs. See proposed regulations for specific WMAs at <www.gohuntgeorgia.com>.
• Woodcock: Expand woodcock season by 15 days.
• Alligator hunts: Allow alligator hunters to utilize Dodge County PFA, Evans County PFA and Tuckahoe WMA.
• WMA dove hunt quotas: Establish quotas for dove hunts on Oconee and Blanton Creek WMAs.
• WMA Quota Deer hunts: Eliminate check-in or quota hunts and change hunts to sign-in or check-in on Allatoona, Big Hammock, Blue Ridge, Chattahoochee, Dukes Creek, Grand Bay, Horse Creek and Pine Log WMAs.
• Altamaha WMA: Reduce rabbit daily bag limit from 12 per person to three per person at Altamaha WMA Waterfowl Management Area. Provide for a two-day, youth, archery-only rabbit hunt.
• Arrowhead WMA: Youth waterfowl hunt quota removed and hunt changed from check-in to sign-in. Allow bear hunting during deer hunts.
• Bartram Forest WMA: This 2,113-acre multiple-use property in Baldwin County would now provide archery-hunting opportunity for turkeys, hogs and small game where opportunity did not previously exist.
• Big Lazer Creek WMA: Waterfowl season on the PFA would change from the state season to Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon during the state season.
• Blanton Creek WMA: Adjust turkey quota from 40 to 35.
• Cedar Creek WMA: Establish archery deer, firearm turkey, small-game and waterfowl hunting on 1,500-acre Little River Archery Area.
• Hunting PFAs: Provide 9-days annually of archery deer hunting and two days of adult/child quail hunting at Dodge County PFA. Provide 9 days annually of archery deer hunting on Hugh Gillis PFA. There previously was no hunting opportunity on either of these two PFAs.
• Horse Creek WMA: Provide an additional 15 days of late-season archery deer hunting.
• Joe Kurz WMA: Change the last turkey quota hunt of the season to a general hunt instead of adult/child.
• Panola Mtn. State Park: Provide a two-day annual firearms deer hunt in mid November for this 1,653-acre park in Rockdale County.
• Red Top Mtn. State Park: Provide two days annually of mid November deer hunts with a quota of 40 at this Bartow County park.
• Rich Mtn. WMA: Change deer hunt from three days of firearms hunting to six days of primitive-weapons hunting. Also, hunts would be sign-in instead of check-in.
• River Bend WMA: Change first two weeks of state turkey season on this WMA to quota hunts with a quota of 15.
• River Creek WMA: Establish a January waterfowl hunting day for the disabled. Provide 16 days for hunting all small game and furbearers instead of just quail, rabbits and squirrels.
• Sapelo Island: Eliminate turkey season on Sapelo Island.
• Chattahoochee and Oconee national forests: Change in coyote regulations to mimic WMA regulations instead of more liberal state seasons, as it is currently regulated. Reduce dog hunting for feral hogs and dog training for bears from 290 days to 124-129 days. The old dog training and hog-dogging seasons ran from Aug. 15 – May 31 annually. The new allowance would be from Aug. 15 through the Thursday preceding archery deer season; Jan. 2 – March 19; and May 1 – the Thursday preceding Memorial Day.
• Corps of Engineers: Allow hunting of feral hogs with big-game weapons outside of firearms deer season on certain corps lands outside of state WMAs.
• Oconee National Forest: Reduce either-sex days for firearms deer hunting from 30 to 17.