The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission set the 2021-22 migratory gamebird hunting seasons, heard a preview of the hunting season regulations, and updates on Asian carp and chronic wasting disease (CWD) at its April meeting which concluded Friday at Cedars of Lebanon State Park.
The migratory gamebird seasons are set each year. All changes are within the federal framework and include simple date changes for the 2021-22 calendar.
There is a modification to the crow season which will allow it to coincide with phase 1 of the dove season. All sandhill crane tags will be issued by computer drawing.
The changes include additional language for veterans and active military personnel waterfowl hunting days. During the veterans and active military personnel waterfowl season, non-veteran or non-active military personnel may be present, however, only veterans or active military persons may hunt. When other migratory bird seasons (e.g. goose seasons) are open during the veterans and active military waterfowl season, any properly licensed youth or adult not accompanied by veterans or active military may harvest legal game.
The 2021-22 crow season is June 12-July 12 (phase 1), Sept. 1-first Sunday in September (phase 2), second Friday in September-Dec. 20 (phase 3, Friday, Saturday, Sunday only) and Jan. 1-Feb 28 (phase 4, no day restrictions).
Slight adjustments to the hunting seasons proposals include adding Henderson County and applicable WMAs therein to Unit CWD, clarification of eligible test results to the Replacement Buck Program, and the addition of Beech River and the Henderson County portion of Natchez Trace State Forest to the August deer hunt. The other items on the proclamation included the addition of events at Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Humprheys County and the movement of a youth dove hunt from Owl Hollow WMA to the nearby Mingo Swamp WMA for safety reasons.
The full proposals will be posted soon on the TWRA website. A comment period will be open to the public and the TFWC will vote on the proposals at its May meeting. Hunting seasons are set every two years. However, the commission is allowed to make amendments to the proclamation.
With five new commissioners on board, a review of CWD was given. Since CWD was discovered in Tennessee in late 2018, a response team was enabled. Goals for management include to keep the disease from spreading, keep the number of infected deer to a minimum, and reduce prevalence rates where available. Dr. Krysten Schuler, from Cornell University, joined the meeting via Zoom to provide an overview of a collaborative CWD-modeling project of which TWRA is a member.
TWRA Chief of Fisheries Frank Fiss presented an overview of the Asian carp problem and ongoing control efforts. Asian carp are still abundant in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and in the lower reservoirs of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. There are no new reports of carp in upper Tennessee River reservoirs.
Control of carp by commercial harvest continues on Kentucky and Barkley lakes, where more than 7 million pounds have been removed through TWRA’s Asian Carp Harvest Incentive Program (ACHIP) since September of 2018. Recent grants for the construction of additional cold storage have increased purchasing capacity. As a result, commercial fishers harvested 930,000 pounds of carp in March 2021, which is nearly double the highest harvest recorded in previous months. TWRA and its partners continue to monitor carp populations and their movements while developing strategies to reduce or stop their upstream movement through locks.
A report was given from the Boating and Law Enforcement Division. The process will begin soon to interview candidates for six current wildlife officer positions.
Representatives from the Tennessee Wildlife Federation made a presentation on the Scholastic Clay Target Program. Award-winning past participants Eli Christman and Minmay Pup also spoke of the benefits they have experienced as a result of the program.