Waterfowl 2013-14 Hunting Seasons Framework, Sandhill Crane Survey Presented At TFWC Meeting

Friday, June 28, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s federal framework for the 2013-14 waterfowl hunting seasons and an in-depth presentation on a recent public survey on sandhill crane management were made to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission at its June meeting which concluded Friday.

Various presentations were given to the commission to provide members with as much information as possible before determining if Tennessee should move forward with implementing a sandhill crane hunt. Mark Duda, from Responsive Management, provided results from the public opinion survey which showed the vast majority of Tennessee residents are in favor of hunting in general, but a sandhill crane hunt is not strongly supported.

The survey also showed that most residents were not aware of sandhill cranes and often confused them with great blue herons. The majority of the public also agreed that sandhill crane viewing and sandhill crane hunting can co-exist.

The commission was then joined via teleconference by the commissioner of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Dr. Jon Gasset. He advised the commission of the success of Kentucky’s sandhill crane season which has been held since 2011.

Following the teleconference, Dr. Gray Anderson, assistant chief of Wildlife and Forestry for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, provided technical information on the federal waterfowl season setting process. He also explained how sandhill crane populations have more than doubled since 1996 and are now at an all-time high with as many as 87,000 cranes in the eastern flyway. The commission also heard comments from representatives of the Tennessee Ornithological Society, who oppose hunting of sandhill cranes and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, who support the hunting of sandhill cranes.

The TWRA will be opening a public comment period to receive input on soliciting hunters’ preference to the start of the 2013-14 late waterfowl hunting season. Comments will also be solicited on the possibility of beginning a sandhill crane hunting season in Tennessee. The 2013-14 waterfowl seasons will be set at the TWFC’s August meeting.

Don Crawford, Information and Education assistant chief, gave an update on the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and the new National Fishing in the Schools Program (NFSP).

The TWRA hosted NASP’s seventh state championship this spring in Murfreesboro with more than 70 schools and 1,225 students participating. What began as a pilot program with 12 schools in 2004, has grown to include more than 275 schools with 31,000 students annually participating.

The NFSP program is currently focused on fly fishing. More than 2,500 students are involved in the program which looks to expand in the future.

Don King, TWRA chief of Information and Education, and Betsy Woods, Boating Education coordinator, gave updates on the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) marketing campaigns for lapsed anglers and boating registrations. These direct mail campaigns were funded and facilitated by the RBFF.

Bobby Wilson, TWRA Fisheries Division chief, gave a report on Free Fishing Day which was June 8 and associated events held throughout the state. The TWRA supplies the fish for stocking for many of the events.

Mike Butler, chief executive officer of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation gave an update on the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). The program recently held its annual state championship in Nashville with more than 1,400 students participating.


Land Trust For Tennessee's Emily Parish To Lead March Nature @ Noontime Program

Emily Parish, director of Conservation for the Land Trust for Tennessee will be the featured speaker for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s March Nature @ Noontime. The program will be held on Thursday, March 5, at the TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building in the Ellington Agriculture Complex. Ms. Parish will speak about the history and programs for The Land Trust for ... (click for more)

TWRA Researching Effects Of Boone Lake Draw Down

Following the announcement from TVA that Boone Lake levels will remain lower than normal into the spring and summer, TWRA fisheries biologists are preparing for the potential impact on fish populations in the reservoir and tailwaters. The primary goal is to keep the fishery as stable as possible during the drawdown period and biologists will be monitoring conditions closely in ... (click for more)

Local Governments Forgave Over $26 Million In Taxes For 2014, Citizen Activist Says

Over $26 million in property tax revenue was apparently "forgiven" (abated) in 2014 because of tax breaks to businesses approved by Chattanooga and Hamilton County governments under the PILOT program (payment in-lieu of tax), according to figures compiled by citizen activist Helen Burns Sharp. She said, "Most PILOT agreements last at least 10 years; some last as long as 30 ... (click for more)

Judge Approves Protective Order In Woodard-Thompson Suit Against Erlanger

Circuit Court Judge Neil Thomas has approved a protective order requested by Erlanger Health System in the lawsuit filed by former Erlanger CEO Charlsetta Woodard-Thompson against the hospital. Plaintiff attorney Jennifer Lawrence had opposed the order, saying Erlanger is a public hospital "and they should not have any of these secrets." She said, "We know what they're doing. ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)