The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has recommended changes to the 2014-15 black bear hunting seasons in an effort to better manage the state’s resources. The recommendations came at the April meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.
TWRA is proposing the creation of new management units for black bears. The three primary bear units will have different management objectives: population stabilization, population growth, and non-existent populations.
“We felt it was a good time to begin creating larger management areas where we have different management objectives,” said Daryl Ratajczak, TWRA Chief of Wildlife and Forestry. “For example in our traditional bear counties, we have a very high number of bears and we are looking to stabilize their population. In those areas, we can offer very liberal hunting opportunities.
“In the portions of the state where bears are just gaining a foot-hold, we can provide restrictive seasons while still allowing for continued growth of the bear population. Therefore, we have recommended limited archery opportunities in those areas”
The state is further divided into five new Bear Hunting Zones (BHZs) defined below. Although hunting dates have not changed considerably in the traditional bear counties, 15 new counties will be opened to a limited hunting season. The new bear season structure is recommended as follows:
BHZ1: Carter, Cocke (North of I-40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, & Washington.
BHZ2: Blount, Cocke (South of I-40), Jefferson (East of Hwy 411), Sevier.
BHZ3: McMinn (East of Hwy 411), Monroe, Polk (East of Hwy 411 & North of Hwy 64).
BHZ4: Cumberland (North of I-40), Fentress, Morgan, Pickett (East of Hwy 111), & Scott (West of Hwy 27).
Transitional: Bradley, Hamblen, Hamilton (East of TN River), Hancock, Hawkins, Grainger, Jefferson (west of Hwy 411), Knox, Loudon, McMinn (West of Hwy 411), & Polk (West of Hwy 411).
Bear Hunt Zone (BHZ)
BHZ 1 BHZ 2 BHZ3 BHZ4** Transitional
Gun/Muzzleloader/Archery Oct. 6-10 Sept. 29- Oct. 4- Closed Closed
(Dogs Allowed) Nov. 3-7 Oct. 5 12
Dec. 1-20 Nov. 3-7 Nov. 3-7
Dec. 1-25 Dec. 1-14
Dec. 30-Jan. 2
(No Dogs) Sept. 27- Sept. 27- Sept. 27- Sept. 27- Sept. 27-
Oct. 24 Oct. 24 Oct. 24 Oct. 24 Oct. 24
Gun/Muzzleloader/Archery Nov. 22-25 Nov. 22-25 Nov. 22-25 Closed Closed
Young Sportsman* Oct. 25-26 Oct. 25-26 Oct. 25-26 Closed Closed
G/M/A (No Dogs)
*Youth 6-16 years of age may participate. Young sportsmen must be accompanied by a non-hunting, adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device and who must also comply with fluorescent orange regulations, as specified for legal hunters. Multiple youth may be accompanied by a single qualifying adult.
** The following areas within BHZ4 are closed to bear hunting: Big South Fork River and Recreation Area, Scott State Forest, and Obed National Scenic River Corridor.
The TFWC will set the 2014-15 hunting seasons at its next meeting, May 22-23, in Nashville at TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building. Committee meetings will be held on May 22 beginning at 1 p.m. The formal meeting starts at 9 a.m. on May 23.