LITTLE ROCK – Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission proposed an amendment to waterfowl hunting regulations today to specify when non-residents can hunt waterfowl on wildlife management areas to specific blocks of dates.
If passed, the proposal would let non-residents hunt waterfowl on WMAs Nov. 17-25, 2018; Dec. 26, 2018-Jan. 6, 2019, and Jan. 19-27, 2019.
Nonresidents still would be required to purchase a 5-day non-resident waterfowl permit, but they would be able to purchase as many permits as they wish to ensure they were able to hunt 30 days during Arkansas’s waterfowl season.
Commissioner Andrew Parker of Little Rock voiced the proposal.
“Since the last duck season, members of this body have repeatedly heard from Arkansas sportsmen and women that it was a step in the right direction but the pressures from overcrowding on those WMAs still exist, especially on our most popular WMAs,” Parker said. “The point of doing this is an effort to try and look for any possible way to avoid having to go to some kind of a draw system, which is something we don’t want to do.”
Commissioners proposed the amendment at today’s meeting to allow time for public comment and consideration before a final vote in time to make any needed changes to the 2019 Arkansas Waterfowl Guidebook, scheduled to be published in mid-October.
The Commission will take public comments about the proposal for the next 30 days before voting at the Sept. 20 Commission meeting in Fort Smith. A public comment survey will be available at www.agfc.com beginning Friday, Aug. 17.
Commissioners also approved a grant of $768,705 to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services to be used to fund education grants throughout the state. The money, collected from wildlife fines, will be available to teachers and educators for conservation education purposes, such as field trips to nature centers, expenses to participate in shooting sports programs and equipment for conservation-focused studies.
“The fine money we get goes back into the schools in the county where the fine originated,” said Commission Chairman Ford Overton. “We don’t just put that in the general fund and use it to buy boats; it goes right back into the school system. I encourage putting that money toward getting hunter education back into the school system.”
Commissioners also passed fishing regulations changes for 2019.
A list of regulations changes is available athttps://www.agfc.com/en/resources/regulations/code/. These regulations were submitted for public comment May 1-31, were formally proposed for consideration at the Commission’s July meeting and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.