LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of special regulations to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease in Arkansas during the Commission’s June 24 meeting. Many of the new regulations focus on hunting seasons and bag limits, but a few, particularly those on feeding wildlife, moving deer and deer parts and rehabilitating deer became effective July 16 (10 days after being filed with the Secretary of State’s office).
A CWD management zone has been established in Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell counties.
The following regulations are now in effect in the CWD management zone:
1. It is unlawful to feed wildlife within the CWD Management Zone, except:
• Bait may be used to hunt deer and elk from Sept. 1-Dec. 31.
• Food plots may be used year-round.
• Baiting bears on private land is allowed. However, before Sept. 1, bears may only be baited with dog food, cat food, pastries/bread, cooking oils/grease, non-wildlife meat scraps, popped popcorn, fish and fish byproducts.
• Baiting furbearers is allowed during open furbearer seasons on private land.
• Incidental feeding of wildlife from active livestock operations is allowed.
• Normal agricultural, gardening or soil stabilization practices are allowed.
• Attracting or feeding birds and squirrels with common bird and squirrel feeders, bird baths and grain completely submerged in water is allowed.
• Hand feeding of wildlife (except alligators) is allowed.
• Baiting is allowed for management, research or control of nuisance wildlife only with approval by the AGFC Chief of Wildlife Management.
2. It is unlawful to import, transport or possess any portion of a deer or elk from the CWD management zone in any portion of the state outside the management zone, except:
• Antlers and cleaned skulls.
• Meat with all bones removed.
• Cleaned teeth.
• Finished taxidermy products
Also effective as of July 16, rehabilitation of deer is prohibited statewide to prevent the movement of deer that could have been exposed to CWD to new locations in the state and prevent possible contamination of rehabilitator facilities.
Another regulation prohibiting the use of scents and lures containing natural deer or elk urine or biofluids goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, statewide.
As deer season approaches, landowners within the CWD Management Zone may apply for additional deer tags to harvest bonus deer. These deer must be submitted for CWD testing. Landowners should contact their local private lands biologist to receive these tags. Visit http://www.agfc.com/species/Documents/PrivateLandsMap.pdf for a list of PLBs.
AGFC biologists will be conducting volunteer CWD sample stations within the CWD Management Zone the first weekend of this year’s modern gun deer season. Locations of sample stations will be made available at www.agfc.com once all details have been finalized.
The three-point rule has been lifted from the legal definition of a buck in Deer Zones 1 and 2, and on some wildlife management areas in the region, for the 2016-17 season. Also, button bucks accidentally harvested in those zones will be counted as antlerless deer instead of using up one of a hunter’s buck tags. Hunters will still check these young bucks as button bucks in the check-in system, but it will not count toward the hunter’s two-buck bag limit.
Elk also will be impacted by regulations concerning CWD, particularly with the formation of a new Core Elk Management Zone (Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties). Any elk found outside of that zone will be legal for harvest by anyone during an open deer season with the legal weapon for that season. Hunters will have a yearly limit of one elk of either sex. All elk harvested statewide also must be checked and presented for CWD samples.