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TWRA gives hunting season summary

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The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission heard a summary on several of the state’s recently completed hunting seasons and honored one of the state’s most well-known anglers during its first meeting of 2014.

Daryl Ratajczak, Chief of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Wildlife Division, reported that the deer harvest for the 2013-14 season currently stands at above 168,000. He stated that the harvest numbers remain in the agency’s range of consistency and proves a stable population.

Ratajczak also said the TWRA’s new check-in application has been well-received by sportsmen across the state. A total of 56 percent of deer harvested were checked-in via internet or the new mobile application. The number reflects an increase from 32 percent over the internet last year.

He also reported the recently completed black bear season and fall turkey season harvests were as expected and reflect healthy populations of both species. The black bear harvest of 502 is the third highest in a season in the state.

Ratajczak also said the TWRA is currently accepting comments for the 2014-15 hunting seasons. The period for comments began last week and will continue through Feb. 23.

The TFWC established the first ever sandhill crane hunting season that was held this year from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day in a designated zone in East Tennessee. The length of the season was much less than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows. A total of 400 permits were issued with a limit of three birds per permit. Preliminary reports indicate that a total of 309 birds were harvested. 

The TWRA annually conducts population surveys at the Hiwassee Refuge. The current estimates of sandhill cranes are at an all-time high at the refuge. 

The TWFC recognized Tennessee icon and perennial national fishing champion Bill Dance with a resolution honoring his contribution to the promotion of fishing in Tennessee. He has been a strong advocate for the sport of fishing, boating safety and the outdoors in general. His popular television programs continue to be telecast nationwide.

Chris Richardson, Special Assistant to the Director/Policy and Legislation gave a preview on the 2014 session of the Tennessee Legislature that began this week in Nashville. An update on issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in regard to license and certification programs and boat registration were given.

Craig Hilburn, Manager of Duck’s Unlimited Conservation Program, addressed the commission on the long-standing relationship between the TWRA and DU. 

Due to illness of the award winner, the presentation of the Shikar-Safari Club International 2013 Tennessee Wildlife Officer of the Year Award was postponed. The award will be presented at the TFWC February meeting. West Tennessee resident Shane Hall was introduced as the coordinator for the Agency/Commission Moment of Freedom Project.