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New duck hunting rules not yet settled
Friday, Jun 25, 2004

By Joe Mosby
Arkansas News Correspondent
HOPE - Changes in duck hunting are coming, officials of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Thursday at their June meeting here.

The possible new rules with some restrictions are all in the talking stage. But some hints, couched with "maybe" and "perhaps" and "we're going to take a look," were voiced by the agency's commissioners.

The duck hunting picture is clouded somewhat, according to Donny Harris, AGFC's wildlife management chief, by a later than usual schedule of guidelines from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Harris said, "We don't have the guidelines yet for the early migratory birds (doves, teal, woodcock and several other species of shore and marsh birds). We usually have these to present to the commissioners in June for them to take action in July."

Guidelines for ducks and geese are normally received from the Fish and Wildlife Service in late July or early August and seasons, bag limits and other rules are set later in August by the AGFC.

Reduced duck hunting in Arkansas has been discussed for more than a year. Crowded conditions at some public hunting areas and less than desirable numbers of ducks in the state during hunting season are two factors involved. A number of hunters have pressured the commission to put limitations in place, especially with nonresident hunters coming to Arkansas.

Harris proposed to the commissioners Thursday that a nonresident waterfowl hunting stamp be created with a higher cost than the present stamp for all hunters which costs $7. Harris proposed a price of $20 for the nonresident stamp, with the resident waterfowl stamp remaining at $7. Action on the proposal will come at the AGFC's July meeting.

Commissioner Mike Freeze of England said, "We are going to look at a number of ways to reduce the pressure in duck hunting. We'll look at shorter hunting hours, and we'll look at revolving wing decoys."

Battery-operated decoys with flapping wings - Robo-Duck is one brand - have become popular with many duck hunters in recent years, but there is some opposition to their use.

"We want the public's input on issues related to early migratory birds as well as input regarding the duck season," Harris said.

In another action Thursday the commissioners named the nearly complete Crowley's Ridge Nature Center at Jonesboro for Forrest L. Wood of Flippin. He's the new chairman of the commission and a near-legendary figure in sport fishing. The Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, to follow at Fort Smith, was named for Janet Huckabee, Arkansas' first lady who was instrumental in the successful 1996 campaign for a conservation sales tax.

Copyright © Arkansas News Bureau, 2003 - 2004

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