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The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission has delayed a decision for at least to two years to move forward through the regulation process and request the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a hunting season for sandhill cranes in the state.
The decision came in a vote by the commission at its January meeting which concluded Friday at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region II Ray Bell Building. A lengthy discussion was held during the wildlife portion of the committee meetings on Thursday. The commission heard presentations from Tim White, TWRA Migratory Game Bird Coordinator and Jim Kelley of the USFWS. The TWRC also heard opinions from representatives on both sides of the issue.
A draft hunt plan by the TWRA had been presented to the commission at the June 2010 meeting for a 2011-12 season. This plan was approved by the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway Councils in July 2010. The commission had directed the agency to develop this plan as a result of a request made by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.
A period for accepting public comments began last fall concerning the possibility of the establishment of a sandhill crane hunting season and continued until prior to the TWRC meeting.
In other business at the January meeting, the TWRC approved the TWRA’s proposals for a third managed elk hunt in Tennessee next fall. The hunt will be held Oct. 17-21, 2011 with five permits available for antlered bulls only. Four of the elk permits will again be randomly selected through a drawing conducted by the TWRA while the fifth permit will be donated to an organization, yet to be determined, which will help raise monies for Tennessee’s elk program.
As in the previous two hunts, hunters will once again be assigned to one of five elk hunting zones (EHZ). Additional tagging procedures will also require hunters to adequately mark the exact location of their harvest.
The commission approved a proposal concerning a TWRA and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation marketing/branding program.
TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter told the commission that Steve Nifong and Ed Warr will serve as interim directors of the Law Enforcement and Wildlife divisions, respectively. Sonny Richardson retired as Law Enforcement Chief and Greg Wathen is now serving as Gulf Coastal Plans and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) Coordinator. Both Nifong and Warr were assistant chiefs in their divisions.
The TWRC set its meetings for the next two months. The commission will meet Feb. 23-24 and March 23-24 at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building in Nashville. The public is invited to attend.
TWRA changes fish stocking program
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) will no longer offer fish (bass and bluegill) for stocking into private ponds and small lakes.
Due to the high cost of raising and distributing private pond fish, in addition to the need to stock more fish into public waters of the state, the agency has decided to discontinue the private pond stocking program. Current pond fish applicants that are scheduled to receive largemouth bass in the spring of 2011 will be the last for the program.
Private pond/lake owners wanting fish can purchase them from fish hatcheries located within the state (visit www.tnwildlife.org), or from commercial fish producers that sell fish at many farm and feed stores located in each county. The pond owner can contact a farm/feed store in their county to check on the availability of fish. Pond and lake owners can also contact any office of TWRA for assistance in locating a commercial source for fish.
Information about stocking, along with pond and small lake management information can be found at: www.state.tn.us/twra/fish/pond/pondfish.html.