7 Wildlife Reg Changes to Watch for This Year
It's that time again when most of us hold on to our wallets because our state legislatures are in session. But not all the changes coming from the statehouses will cost us money. It looks like a few legislatures are considering significant changes in wildlife policies. It's also the time of year when wildlife agencies look ahead to setting and changing hunting seasons.
Here are 7 prospective changes to watch:
Sunday hunting in Virginia
The House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Chesapeake Committee voted 12-10 to send forward House Bill 1237, which allows Sunday hunting on private lands only. It also dictates a 100-foot buffer around places of worship and bans hunting with dogs on Sundays. You might remember that Virginia has been trying to end discrimination against Sunday hunting for several years now. Last year it came close, and after a similar bill passed in the Senate, a House committee (Natural Resource Committee) killed it with a 4-3 vote. This year, legislators in favor of the law did an end-run around that particular committee. Let's just say, the anti-hunters are smarting and crying not fair!
Season instead of quota for black bears in Maryland
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) might change its black bear hunting season by ending its quota system and setting a calendar date. Since putting bear hunting back on the books in 2004, the MDNR has operated bear hunting through a quota season, and bear hunters had to call a hotline to find out if the season had ended. Hunters tagged 94 bears, out of 130 set for the quota.
Limited hunting for mulies and whitetails in Montana
The Montana Fish, Wildife and Parks (FWP) most likely will change its 2014 and 2015 hunting regulations regarding deer. According to an FWP press release, FWP proposes to: 1) convert general mule deer seasons to antlered-only; 2) eliminate most mule deer B, or antlerless, licenses; 3) eliminate white-tailed deer B licenses in Regions 4 and 6 and in most of Region 5.
Deer check-in stations get the axe in Wisconsin
On Wed., Jan. 22, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources eliminated in-person deer check stations for next year's season. The DNR believes this action will reduce costs (estimated at $182,00 annually) and allow deer to be processed faster. Watch for more changes from the Badger State, as it reshapes its deer hunting policies -- thanks to a massive overhaul of the system overseen by James Kroll.
Still hunters may be able to bait bears in North Carolina
With several changes in the works, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is finding that people are most interested in the proposed regulation to allow still hunters to bait black bears, which undoes years of hunting without bait. It's a hot topic, one that flies against tradition in this state that prides itself on pure bear hunting. Bear hunters may release hounds on or near sites that hold unprocessed food products. This policy will lift the restriction on still hunters.
Statewide expansion of private lands elk hunting in Oklahoma
It's too late to comment on this proposal from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. It wanted to know if Oklahomans wanted to expand private lands elk hunting to all counties that hold elk in the state - that would 30 out of 77. These other counties have elk because of release or escape by the game from the other sanctioned counties. It's not clear when the Department will issue its decision. Check the website for more information.
Drone hunting licenses in Colorado
Deer Trail, Colo., Resident Phillip Steel has been trying to get his little town to allow drone hunting. If that policy is passed, people will be able to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles. Last year, the Board of Trustees voted on the proposal and it ended unsuccessfully in a tie. The 523 residents will vote on the measure in April.