The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held its March meeting that featured five new commissioners and the first meeting chaired by Jamie Woodson.
The one-day meeting was held at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building.
The new commissioners introduced were Angie Box (Jackson, TFWC District 8), Brian McLerran (Moss, District 3), Kent Woods (Kodak, District 2), Dennis Gardner (Lakeland, Statewide), and James Stroud (Dyersburg, Statewide).
Frank Fiss, Chief of Fisheries, presented an update on Asian carp that have invaded Tennessee’s waterways. Wild populations of black, grass, bighead, and silver carp have established populations in the Mississippi River, and grass, silver and bighead carp have already entered the Tennessee and Cumberland River systems.
Fiss said during his presentation that TWRA always reminds anglers that these invasive species should never be used as live bait, because this could spread them into additional waters. Control efforts are currently limited to commercial fishing.
TWRA fisheries managers lack some critical information about the movements and population dynamics of these species, according to Fiss. TWRA recently secured federal funding and will be partnering with the Tennessee Tech University to conduct research needed to learn more about future control strategies beyond commercial fishing.
Mike Butler, chief executive officer of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, presented a resolution approved by the federation’s board of directors. The resolution called for the TWRA to formulate a statewide strategic whitetail deer management plan.
The last strategic plan for whitetail deer has expired. The resurgence of whitetail deer is regarded as one of the state’s greatest conservation restoration stories.
David McKinney, of TWRA’s Environmental Services, gave a presentation on White Oak Wildlife Management Area. He spoke to the commission about the history of flooding in the area. He was followed by David Salyers of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority, who supplied scientific information.
Lynn Barrett, from the TWRA Geographic Information System (GIS), gave a demonstration on the new interactive WMA map for the hunting public. The map was developed by using existing Environmental System Research Institute (ESRI) software. Usage indicates the map has been viewed more than 46,000 times. GIS staff is currently working on information a new map for anglers and is always looking to improve and upgrade the existing WMA map.
Chair Woodson announced that vice chair David Watson has resigned from the commission due to health reasons. He will be honored at a future TFWC meeting.
In a special election, Commissioner Jeff Cook was elected vice chair. An appointment will come in the future for Mr. Watson’s position in TFWC District 4, which includes 10 counties in the Chattanooga area.
The next meeting will be held Wednesday, April 26, at the TWRA Region II Building.