From Staff Reports
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) established the state’s 2017-18 hunting and trapping seasons at its May meeting which took place on the campus of Bryan College.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) staff had recommended few changes to the 2017-18 regulations during its season’s preview held at the April meeting.
The TFWC voted to increase the total number of elk hunt permits from 11 to 15 and increase the three hunt segments to seven days each. This will include seven archery permits, seven for gun (which includes the auctioned permit), and one youth permit.
The archery only elk hunt was increased from five to seven days and will be held beginning the last Saturday of September. The dates are Sept. 30 through Oct. 6.
The gun season hunt, with its increase of two days from previous years, will be held Oct. 14-20, 2017. Similar to last year, all hunt permits are valid on the North Cumberland WMA and can also be used on private lands (with landowner permission) within the Elk Restoration Zone in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott counties.
The Young Sportsman hunt was previously a two-day weekend hunt and increases to seven days. It begins Oct. 7 and continues through Oct. 13.
No changes were made to the deer and turkey hunting seasons, limits and regulations though there was considerable discussion on the definition of antlered deer and turkey daily bag limits.
There were also no changes to the bear hunting dates but standardized bear seasons language was adopted. There were no changes to the furbearer proclamation other than removing some antiquated language in the proclamation regarding fox hunting.
Some slight changes were made requiring hunters to check in their big game animals prior to gifting an animal to another person and prior to a big game animal leaving Tennessee.
Due to removal of some language in a state law, the commission will now have more authority in determining the type, placement and inspection of traps utilized in furbearer trapping. All traps approved implement accepted Best Management Practices.
Various minor changes to several WMAs were made across the state. They will be posted soon on TWRA’s website.
The commission also discussed a few fishing topics. Upper Chilhowee Reservoir has been closed to fishing during a dam maintenance project for about two years. The TFWC voted to amend the current sport fish proclamation opening Chilhowee Reservoir to fishing upon notification from Brookfield Renewable, which is the company that operates the dam. The TWRA will make a formal announcement on the date in the coming months.
The commission passed a rule in regard to commercial fishing and wholesale fish dealers. This rule addresses commercial fishing licenses, permits, and reporting requirements. Passage of this rule will not change these licenses or requirements as currently found in the proclamation. This rule also creates a new process to sell available resident commercial roe fish permits. When available, TWRA will announce a live drawing for eligible commercial fishers.
In another housekeeping item, the commission passed a rule in regard to commercial musseling. This rule addresses commercial mussel licenses, mussel fees, and importation and exportation procedures. Passage of this rule will not change licenses, fees or procedures as currently found in proclamation.
Former commissioner David Watson was recognized at the meeting. The Lookout Mountain resident had been elected as the TFWC vice chairman in February, but resigned from the commission due to health reasons.
Members of the Birchwood Area Society Improvement Council were recognized for their assistance. The TWRA and the council have worked together the past 26 years to host the annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival.
TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Cpt. Matt Majors gave a report on the TWRA Honor Guard. The Honor Guard, formed in 2013, provides 3-tiered service to the fallen, ceremonial services, and assistance/support to other conservation law agencies. The TWRA Honor Guard recently participated in the National Police Week in Washington, D.C., which thousands of officers from around the world participate.
Brandt Information Services representatives presented details for a digital marketing proposal. Brandt became the agency’s new license vendor last Oct. 31. Sportsmen now have the opportunity to purchase a new collectible hard card with revenue being used to invest in the marketing program.
Jennifer Wisniewski, the Georgia Department of marketing and communications director, gave a presentation on her Email marketing experience in her state. She explained the benefits, which includes the license sales increases that Georgia has enjoyed.