Addressing fears from some deer hunters that use dogs, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission put to rest any concerns that additional restrictions would be forthcoming.
Commissioners passed a resolution stating that there is no need for further limits on deer hunting with dogs.
Commission Chairman Jim Hinkle said that some individuals in various parts of the state have recently expressed apprehension concerning possible additional regulations. "The commission sees no need for further restrictions to be placed on the use of dogs for deer hunting and we have no intention of adopting additional regulations in this regard," Hinkle said.
Presently dogs may not be used while archery, muzzleloader or in certain deer zones of the state while modern gun deer hunting is allowed. There are a number of deer zones in the state where deer hunting with dogs is allowed during modern gun season.
The commission also adopted an application process to clarify procedures for establishment of an urban bowhunting deer zone. The new process would require any city, town or incorporated area to submit a written request for the hunt along with a precise boundary description of the area to be included in the zone.
Problems with overpopulations of deer in urban areas of the state have become a concern to some municipalities. The abundance of deer in the city of Bull Shoals led city administrators to organize the state's first urban bow hunt late last year. Permits were given to 100 applicants for the archery-only hunt. A total of 54 deer were harvested during the hunt.
In other business, the commission:
* Approved a code revision prohibiting any new wildlife commercial breeder/dealer permits for cervids such as white-tailed deer and elk. The commission also made permanent an emergency prohibition on the importation of deer and elk into Arkansas.
The bans are a result of concerns that captive wildlife populations may spread the devastating disease known as chronic wasting disease. No cases of the disease have been reported in Arkansas, but outbreaks have been reported in various parts of the country. The introduction and outbreak of CWD in other states have reportedly come from privately acquired elk and deer.
Chronic wasting disease is usually lethal to deer and elk. It is related to mad cow disease found in Great Britain. With CWD, the animal's immune system is unable to fight off the disease, and the animal deteriorates or "wastes," until death.
* Approved the spring turkey season dates of April 5 through May 11, 2003 in spring turkey zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17 with a bag limit of two turkeys. In spring turkey zones 1A, 4, 4A, 5A and 9A, the season will be April 5 through April 18 with a one turkey bag limit.
* Approved several changes to commercial roe harvest regulations. Dates for the harvest will be Nov. 15 to April 15. Other changes included prohibiting cutting a fish to check for roe. At least two inches of each egg sack must remain attached to the fish to aid identification. The minimum length limit on the Arkansas River was changed to 36 inches, with a 32-inch limit on the White River and 34 inches on other rivers in the state. The closure of the upper Arkansas River from Ozark Lock and Dam to the Oklahoma state line was continued. A special season will be announced in the future that will allow additional fishing in the Ozark Pool.