Waterfowl hunters on both public and private ground will have to stop hunting at noon in an area between the St. Francis River flood control main levees on the east and west and on the north from Highway 412 east of Paragould south to Highway 63S at Marked Tree. The area includes the St. Francis Sunken Lands Wildlife Management Area.
The waterfowl zone is a result of input from both farmers and hunters in the area, according to commissioner Sheffield Nelson of Little Rock. "We feel like this may enhance the overall waterfowl hunting in that area," Nelson explained.
There have been problems enforcing the noon deadline on public areas where boundaries in the WMA are not well defined, according to AGFC wildlife management chief Donny Harris. "Boundaries in the St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA are not definite and it's been a problem for hunters to know whether they are on public or private land. If they're on public land, they must stop hunting at noon. Private land hunters formerly could hunt all day. We feel like we have a lot of public support for this zone approach," he said.
The waterfowl season is split into three segments. The first portion will open on Saturday, Nov. 22 and continue through Dec. 7. After a four-day break, the second season will be open from Dec. 12 through Dec. 24, the final season will continue from Dec. 26 through Jan. 25, 2004. The youth waterfowl hunt will be Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2004 weekend.
Duck hunters will be allowed no more than four mallards of which only one mallard may be a hen. The daily bag limit may also contain one pintail, three mottled ducks, three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck and one canvasback, but no more than a total of six ducks.
In other business, the commission:
Approved a code change involving captive mountain lions in Arkansas. Mountain lions may now be kept in captivity subject to city and county ordinances. The owners must also have proof of legal purchase and ownership of the animal.
Discussed the 2004 spring turkey hunting season dates. Two options were offered for the largest portion of the state. Seasons of April 3-May 9 or April 3-May 7 in Spring Turkey Zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17. A season of April 3-April 16 in Spring Turkey Zones 1A, 4, 4A, 5A and 9A with a March 27-28 statewide youth hunt also being discussed.