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Hunters Can Access Deer Fetal Study Data Online

 

Alabama hunters now have access to the most recent results of a white-tailed deer fetal study conducted during the spring and summer by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division. Results from the fetal study, hunter survey and Game Check system will assist in the setting of seasons and bag limits.
 
WFF Director Chuck Sykes said the fetal study data is posted on www.outdooralabama.com/hunting after the information from the intensive collection effort in 49 counties was recently compiled. The study involved taking does from specific sites and performing necropsies to determine fetal development, which provides a date of conception.
 
This year’s samples were taken from 104 sites, the majority of those from south of Highway 80. WFF personnel attempted to take a sample size of five deer per site with at least two sample sites per county. Additional sites were added along the Chattahoochee River for extra scrutiny. Sykes said that between 450 and 500 deer were sampled for the study.
 
Previous fetal studies provided Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. and the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board with the data to support the decision to give portions of southwest Alabama a 10-day season in February. Those 10 days were swapped for 10 days of hunting in December.
 
“These fetal studies, along with the information we get from Game Check, will give us a better understanding of the breeding activities in south Alabama and whether the February season is justified where it is now or whether it should be expanded,” Sykes said. “Of course, a lot of that depends on how many hunters participate in Game Check. It is extremely important that hunters participate in Game Check so we can find out what the details of the harvest are in those areas.”
 
Sykes said there is no one-size-fits all approach to deer management in Alabama.
 
“There will never be a clear-cut boundary line of rutting activity,” Sykes said. “However, the Game Check results, combined with the fetal study data, will give our Department more accurate information to set seasons and bag limits. Major road or river systems must be utilized to give hunters, as well as conservation enforcement officers, clear-cut boundaries. So, our Department will continue to gather data, which will enable us to make the most precise decisions possible."
 
There are three ways to participate in Game Check. The easiest and fastest way is to use a smartphone with the Outdoor Alabama app for both iPhones and Android devices. Hunters can also visit www.outdooralabama.com to participate or call the toll-free telephone number at 800-888-7690.
 
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com. 



Hunters Should Avoid Harvesting “Collared Deer” in Research Locations

November 21, 2013

 

The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) and the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences are currently conducting a telemetry project to determine the adult survival rates and movement patterns of white-tailed deer in Alabama. The project is designed to enhance the management of Alabama’s white-tailed deer resources.
 
Locations include the Oakmulgee Wildlife Management Area (WMA); Barbour WMA; Pioneer Deer Management Cooperative, a collective of hunting clubs in Pickens County; and Rembert Hill Road, southwest of Linden, Ala., in Marengo County. 
 
During the project, white-tailed deer of various ages will be captured by trained wildlife researchers using sedatives in each of the four locations and a radio collar will be placed around the neck of the deer. This collar will allow Auburn University researchers to gather movement and survival data. It is possible that the deer may not stay in the locations in which they are collared during hunting season.
 
Hunters are encouraged to avoid harvesting a collared deer during the 2013-14 hunting season. The sedatives used to capture the deer make consumption of the deer unsafe for a 45-day period. However, if harvested after the 45-day period the deer is safe to consume, but harvesting a collared deer is discouraged. Deer will be collared throughout the 2013-14 hunting season in each of the four locations.
 
“It is very important for us to retrieve each of the collars after a deer is shot or dies of natural causes,” said Ray Metzler, WFF Wildlife Section Assistant Chief. “The data collected by the collar can help shape deer management decisions for future hunting seasons.” 
 
Hunters who accidentally harvest a collared deer during the upcoming gun season should contact the following:
 
Oakmulgee WMA*
Jeff Makemson at 205-371-6375 or Chris Cook at 205-339-5716
 
Barbour County WMA*
Adam Pritchett at 334-529-3222 or Bill Gray at 334-347-1298
 
Pioneer Cooperative and Rembert Hill Road
Chris Cook at 205-339-5716
 
*If the WMA check-in stations are closed, please place the collar and a note with your contact information inside the gate and WFF personnel will contact you with information regarding consumption of the collared deer.
 
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.  



Report Your Harvest in 24 Hours with Game Check

New for the 2013–14 hunting season, all deer and turkey hunters will be required to report all deer and turkeys harvested in Alabama. After completion of the harvest record, hunters will then be required to report all deer and turkeys harvested within 24 hours of killing the deer or turkey via Game Check. More




 

CAB Passes February Extension in SW Alabama

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

An extension of deer season into February in southwest Alabama, the Outdoor Alabama Game Check system and a definition of “area” for purposes of supplemental feeding for deer and feral hogs were among the items approved by the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board Saturday at Vestavia Hills, Ala.

Starting in 2014, the February deer season would allow deer hunting until February 10 in all of Baldwin, Mobile, Washington and Escambia counties, most of Monroe and Conecuh counties and portions of Choctaw, Clarke, Wilcox, Butler and Covington counties (see map). Those areas would be closed to gun deer hunting December 2-11 to offset the extension into February.

The Alabama Dog Hunting Association opposed the extension because the number of days of deer hunting with dogs would be reduced.

Hunters in other areas of the state also expressed an interest in extending the season into February, butConservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. said there isn’t enough data to support an extension at this time.

“We need to have data to support what we do,” Commissioner Guy said. “Currently we don’t have the data to support (extending the season in other counties). If we’re going to do it right, and we’re going to, we need that data. We have a plan for this year to do the deer fetal studies in the other counties that are not on the map. We got calls from about every county south of Montgomery that wanted the extension, too, and I understand that. But we need to have the data.”

Commissioner Guy also said he understood that dog deer hunters were upset because the end of dog deer hunting remains January 15 statewide.

“We did that because we didn’t feel it was appropriate for the resource or for the hunters in the rest of the state to give that area extra days,” he said. “The dog hunters who stalk hunt will still be able to hunt the same number of days. Now my commitment to those who have an interest in this is that if we extend the season into other areas of the state next year, we will be obviously including more of those who are affected by dog deer hunting days. My commitment is to try somehow to address that, so that you don’t lose that many days, or you lose less days. It’s very complicated. It’s not simple. But I’m not saying we won’t go back and look at that.”

Commissioner Guy said the implementation of the Outdoor Alabama Game Check system, whereby hunters in Alabama will be required to report their deer or turkey harvests within 24 hours of the kill, will increase the data collection and allow the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) to respond more quickly to the changing dynamics of the wildlife herds and hunter activities, which will be particularly pertinent to the season extension.

“With Game Check we’re going to be able to see how many bucks and does are being taken in this extended season,” he said. “You will be required to report the bucks you kill. You’re not getting extra bucks. It’s the same three-buck limit.

“When it comes to does, if you don’t want to shoot does, don’t shoot does. Certainly, you need to manage your properties. For private land, this will provide the ability to hunt into what the data shows in this area is a later rut. The information we have supports it.”

The board also approved a reduction in the daily bag limit of unantlered deer in a portion of north Alabama. The daily harvest during gun season of unantlered deer would be reduced from two per day to one per day. One area that was included in the original proposal – the area west of Highway 431 to the Tennessee River and Highway 231 – was removed from the area with reduced doe harvest.

The other major action taken by the board was to define the “area” where it is legal to hunt deer and feral hogs when supplemental feed is on the property. The proposal unanimously passed by the board would make it legal to hunt an area if the feed is more than 100 yards away from and out of the line of sight of the hunter because of natural vegetation and/or naturally-occurring terrain features. The regulation also includes a “rebuttable presumption” clause that means that if the Conservation Enforcement Officer deems there is evidence of baiting that a citation can still be issued.

“Our Conservation Enforcement Officers do a great job, but under the law, there is no clear definition of what the area is,” Commissioner Guy said. “For some officers, that could be the size of the auditorium. For others, it could be the size of the parking lot. It’s not a problem with the officers; it’s because it’s not defined in the law.”

Commissioner Guy said the department researched how surrounding states deal with the issue of “area” and found that Mississippi has the 100-yard regulation, while Tennessee’s regulation stipulates the hunter must be 250 yards away from the feed. North Georgia’s regulation prohibits hunting when feed is less than 200 yards away. The regulation applies to deer and feral swine only.

“This proposed area definition does not allow baiting,” he said. “This is not a circumvention of the law that says that you can’t bait. You still can’t bait. The purpose of this is to allow the officers and public an opportunity to do what is already allowed. You can feed 365 days a year in Alabama. Supplemental feeding is allowed. People want to feed on their property and do it in a lawful manner, but they don’t know what the parameters are. So we’re trying to set the parameters with this.

“Now if you go out and try to circumvent this by pouring corn out behind a bale of hay, that’s not going to work. That’s baiting. …We are not allowing baiting.”

In other action, board member Bill Hatley of Gulf Shores made a motion to eliminate fall turkey season in the six counties – Clarke, Clay, Covington, Monroe, Randolph and Talladega – where it is currently allowed. Those affected counties will have a spring turkey season only from March 15 to April 30, starting in 2014. The board also voted to remove a portion of Mobile County from a restriction on turkey hunting.

The board passed a motion to increase hunting and fishing licenses according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase of 1.6 percent, which means the cost of an annual resident all-game hunting license will increase about 40 cents.

Adjustments were made to the bag limit for gray triggerfish. To match federal regulation, the daily bag for triggerfish was set at two fish per person. The use of laser sights for hunters who are legally blind was also approved.

In other deer news, the board approved allocating funding for a deer mortality study through the use of collared deer in a collaborative project involving Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and the School of Forestry and Wildlife at Auburn University. Also, a portion of Elmore County and all of Wilcox County were placed on the permit system for dog deer hunting.

All action taken by the board must be approved by Commissioner Guy before it is implemented.




Possible Extension of 2014 Deer Season
In Select Portion of Southwest Alabama
A proposal for an extended 2014 February deer season will be presented to the Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) at its meeting on February 9, but it will not be voted on until a future meeting. Advisory board rules require that no regulation is voted on during the same meeting it is introduced. This is to give the board time to hear feedback from the public and do any necessary research on the issue. The boundaries for the proposed extension in southwest Alabama are still being fine-tuned and will not be revealed until the February 9 meeting. The CAB meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the State Capitol Auditorium in Montgomery and begins at 9 a.m. Those wishing to address the board must register between 8-8:30 a.m. The proposed extension refers to the 2014 season, and not the 2013 season.Deer season will end as scheduled on Thursday, January 31, 2013,” said Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr.



Report Your Harvest Online
With the start of gun deer season coming up on November 17, did you know that you can report your deer harvest information online? Accurate, timely harvest data provides wildlife biologists with much-needed information about the state's deer population. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' online deer harvest form works like a harvest journal for hunters; once the information is added to the online database, it is permanently accessible by the hunter anytime, anywhere. Get started byclicking here.

Deer Management Assistance Program
The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) has made two significant changes to its Deer Management Assistance Program (DMP). Starting with the 2012-13 hunting season, the enrollment fees will be dropped, and a series of regional meetings will be conducted by WFF biologists to collect the data gathered by participating hunting clubs. The WFF’s goal is to enroll 400 to 500 hunting clubs scattered evenly across the state in order to collect enough data to help it better understand and manage the state’s deer population. During the 2011-12 hunting season, only 104 participating hunting clubs were enrolled in the program. More



 Deer Management Assistance Program Changes Encourage Enrollment

 

The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) has made two significant changes to its Deer Management Assistance Program (DMP). Starting with the 2012-13 hunting season, the enrollment fees will be dropped, and a series of regional meetings will be conducted by WFF biologists to collect the data gathered by participating hunting clubs. 
 
The WFF’s goal is to enroll 400 to 500 hunting clubs scattered evenly across the state in order to collect enough data to help it better understand and manage the state’s deer population. During the 2011-12 hunting season, only 104 participating hunting clubs were enrolled in the program. 
 
Hunting clubs in all parts of the state with 500 acres or more are especially encouraged to enroll in the program. Clubs in the northern part of the state with less than 500 acres that are interested in participating in the DMP are encouraged to contact their district office to discuss enrolling in the program.
 
According to WFF Wildlife Section Assistant Chief Ray Metzler, participation in the DMP is a win-win situation for both the hunting clubs and the WFF.  “Hunting clubs and deer managers will receive free professional technical assistance from a WFF wildlife biologist regarding habitat management, harvest recommendations, breeding chronology, population dynamics, and other facets of white-tailed deer management,” he said. “The WFF will receive much needed age-specific harvest data from hunting clubs throughout the state.”   
 
The DMP was started in 1983 with 10 hunting clubs. Participation quickly grew to approximately 2,200 hunting clubs and included more than 12 percent of the state’s land area. Enrollment in the program declined significantly over the past decade as a result of the liberalization of the statewide antlerless deer hunting seasons. The decline in participation resulted in less age-specific data available to WFF biologists to use in assessing the health and condition of Alabama’s white-tailed deer population.   
 
“By lowering the barriers to DMP participation we hope to ensure the long-term health of the state’s deer herd,” said Chris Cook, WFF Deer Project Study Leader. “Alabama’s hunters are vital to that effort.” 
 
DMP participants are required to obtain sex, weight, lactation rates, antler measurements, and other data for all deer harvested during the hunting season. Hunting clubs interested in partnering with the WFF to assess and better manage local deer populations can enroll in the program by contacting their district office. WFF District Wildlife Office contact information is listed below and can also be found online at outdooralabama.com.
 
WFF District Wildlife Office Contact Information:
 
Montgomery Headquarters
(334) 242-3469
 
District I
Counties: Blount, Colbert, Cullman, Fayette, Franklin, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Walker, and Winston.
(256) 353-2634
 
District II   
Counties: Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Randolph, St. Clair, Talladega, and Tallapoosa.
(256) 435-5422
 
District III
Counties: Autauga, Bibb, Chilton, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, and Tuscaloosa.
(205) 339-5716
 
District IV  
Counties: Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Macon, Montgomery, Pike, and Russell.
(334) 347-9467
 
District V  
Counties: Baldwin, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Washington, and Wilcox.
(251) 626-5474
 
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com. 



 

Alabama Continues Monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease

 

State wildlife officials want hunters and landowners to know Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer has not occurred in Alabama and they hope to keep it that way. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) is taking several measures to help prevent the disease from reaching the state.

Diagnostics to confirm the presence of CWD require collecting the skull and neck vertebra from adult age class hunter harvested white-tailed deer. WFF staff work with local clubs and deer processors to collect the necessary samples for CWD monitoring. A minimum of 300 samples have been collected annually statewide for the past 10 years. WFF staff expect to complete this hunting season’s collection and monitoring by Christmas. Collected samples are sent to the State Department of Agriculture diagnostic labs for testing and analysis. WFF appreciates all of those that cooperated to obtain the samples.

CWD is a fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of deer and elk. It belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The disease attacks the brains of infected deer and elk and causes animals to become emaciated (skinny), display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and die. It has been found in captive and/or wild cervids (members of the deer family) in 18 states and two Canadian provinces. 

Alabama is recognized as a leader in minimizing disease risks by preventing the importation of deer.  Alabama has had a regulation banning the importation of all cervids into Alabama since 1973.  Convictions for violating the importation ban carry a fine of $1,000-5,000 and up to 30 days in jail.  Many other states have since implemented some form of this regulation to reduce their risk of introducing CWD. 

Many Alabamians hunt outside the state and bring their harvested animals back with them. WFF requests that these hunters take the following precautions before bringing any harvested cervids from CWD endemic areas into the state:

• Remove the bones and package the meat; avoid cutting into the spinal cord or removing the head; also avoid quartering the carcass with any of the spinal column or head attached.
• Do not bring the brain, intact skull, or spinal cord back into the state.
• If you wish to take the antlers attached to the skull plate, thoroughly scrape and clean tissue from the skull plate using a knife or brush and bleach. Thoroughly clean all utensils afterward with bleach.
• If you are hunting in an endemic area, have the animal tested for CWD in the state in which it was harvested. 
• Finished taxidermy products, including head mounts, are not known to pose a risk.

The ADCNR needs your support to maintain Alabama’s CWD-free status. You can assist the WFF with its CWD monitoring program by reporting any transport of live deer or elk on Alabama’s roads and highways. Call the Operation Game Watch line immediately at 1-800-272-4263 if you see live deer or elk being transported in Alabama. Contacting the Division immediately makes it more likely the deer or elk will be intercepted before it can be released. You should also call this number if you see a deer that exhibits clinical signs of CWD. Personnel will contact you to obtain additional information.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visitwww.outdooralabama.com.




 

Spike on One Side (SOOS) Bucks Requested

by Outdoor Alabama on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 3:05pm
 

Alabama’s gun deer season opens Saturday, November 19, 2011. Hunters are encouraged to participate in a research project being conducted by the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University. The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) is cooperating with Gabe Karns, a graduate student at Auburn University, to encourage hunters to harvest and provide antlers and skull plates from bucks with a spike on one side (SOOS) for inclusion in the study. SOOS bucks have one normally formed antler on one side, and a spike, or a forked prong, on the other side.  

 

Harvesting an SOOS buck will count toward the three buck limit. For a complete list of hunting regulations visit http://www.eregulations.com/alabama/. 

 

White-tailed deer antler growth is the product of genetic, physical, and environmental variables. Because a single genetic code determines antler structure for both sides, slight deviations from perfect symmetry are the result of non-genetic factors such as nutritional deficiencies, drought, parasites, or other stressors. More severe antler abnormalities are usually attributed to injuries to the deer’s limbs or pedicles (the base from which the antlers grow) and damage to developing antlers in velvet. Damage to developing antlers in velvet may also abruptly halt growth and result in under-developed antler structure characterized by “acorn” antler tips.  

 

Examining bucks that exhibit SOOS antler traits should shed light on a very contentious issue among deer hunters, “What constitutes a genetic cull buck?” SOOS bucks are almost always lumped into the genetically “inferior” group. Limited data gathered during the 2010-2011 hunting season provided results suggesting this interpretation to be incorrect; however, more data is needed to better understand the SOOS phenomenon.   

 

Skulls should be cleaned with no hide or significant amount of tissue remaining. European-style skulls and skull plates with at least one inch of bone surrounding both pedicles in all directions are acceptable samples. After examination, samples will be returned, if needed, to the hunter.  

 

Alabama hunters are allowed to harvest three bucks a year, one of which must have at least four points 1 inch or longer on one antler. Hunters must record the date each buck is harvested and have that information available when in the field. A harvested SOOS buck will count toward the hunter’s three-buck limit. 

 

The research project relies heavily on private landowners and hunting clubs to collect SOOS samples. This is an opportunity for Alabama deer hunters to take a proactive role in deer research and management efforts.  Please contact Gabe Karns at grk0002@auburn.edu for information on how you can participate in the SOOS collection process. 

 

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

 

###

 

 

An antlered buck with a pronged antler abnormality.




Oak Mountain Deer Management Program Expands in 2011-2012

In an effort to expand the opportunity for bowhunters to harvest more deer within Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham, hunt dates will be scheduled November 1, 2011 through January 31, 2012. Hunt dates will be weekday only with the exception of the weekend of January 28-29, 2012. The program was designed by the Alabama State Parks Division, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (Wildlife Section) and Bowhunters of Alabama (BHA) in an effort to maximize hunter opportunity and streamline the deer management process.

Oak Mountain State Park will remain open during the hunting time period. All established rules and regulations will apply. The park will be divided into 11 zones with each zone accommodating 4-5 hunters on a first-come, first-serve basis. No more than 55 hunters will be chosen by BHA through a registration and interview process for the 2011-12 season. Visit www.alabamabowhunter.com, to learn more about registration for this program.

The Oak Mountain hunting format is modeled on other urban deer control programs across the United States and has proven beneficial in total number of deer harvested during the 2010-11 season. Last year 59 Deer total were harvested during the hunts (42 does and 17 Bucks). The hunts have averaged a total of 28 deer harvested per hunting period since the hunts began six years ago. Harvest numbers are expected to go up during the 2011-12 season due to the expanded time frame, weather permitting.

Wildlife experts point to Oak Mountain State Park as a textbook case of how deer tend to multiply in numbers greater than their habitat can support unless controlled through regulated hunting. Scientific data provided by herd health checks and necropsy confirmed the presence of parasites and disease due to overpopulation. After consulting with state wildlife biologists and in consideration of research data, regulated archery hunts were established in order to control the Oak Mountain State Park herd.

Surveys conducted in 1999, 2000 and 2003 found serious vegetative impact on developing wildflower growth, trees and shrubs as a result of deer browsing. In turn, populations of small mammals and nesting birds were negatively effected. Additionally, disease, parasites and malnutrition can result when deer numbers exceed the vegetative carrying capacity of the land. Future research will be conducted as funds allow in an effort to highlight improvements within the park and the whitetail deer population.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama's natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .



Oak Mountain Deer Management Program to Expand During the 2010-11 Season

June 01, 2010

 

In an effort to allow bowhunters to harvest more deer within Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham, continuous hunt dates will be scheduled mid-November 2010 through January 2011. The new program was designed by the Alabama State Parks Division, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (Wildlife Section) and Bowhunters of Alabama (BHA) in an effort to maximize hunter opportunity and streamline the deer management process.
 
Oak Mountain State Park will remain open during the hunting time period. All established rules and regulations will apply. The park will be divided into 11 zones with each zone accommodating 4-5 hunters on a first-come, first-serve basis. A total of 40 hunters will be chosen by BHA through a registration and interview process for the 2010-11 season. For more information visit www.alabamabowhunter.com, to learn more about registration for this program.
 
The 2008 and 2009 harvest numbers were down considerably due to poor weather. The new Oak Mountain hunting format will follow the model used in other urban deer control programs across the United States
 
Wildlife experts point to Oak Mountain State Park as a textbook case of how deer tend to multiply in numbers greater than their habitat can support unless controlled through regulated hunting. Scientific data provided by herd health checks and necropsy confirmed the presence of parasites and disease due to overpopulation.  After consulting with state wildlife biologists and in consideration of research data, regulated archery hunts were established in order to control the Oak Mountain State Park herd. 
 
Surveys conducted in 1999, 2000 and 2003 found serious vegetative impact on developing wildflower growth, trees and shrubs as a result of deer browsing. In turn, populations of small mammals and nesting birds were negatively effected. Additionally, disease, parasites and malnutrition can result when deer numbers exceed the vegetative carrying capacity of the land. Further planned research to be conducted this year will highlight improvements within the park and the whitetail deer population.
 
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .
 



Advisory Board Hears Requests, Finalizes Hunting Seasons


By DAVID RAINER
 

In its final meeting of 2010, the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board received an update on the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and received public testimony on a wide range of conservation issues that included a request to reduce the creel limit on bass at Lake Guntersville to five fish and an appeal to keep promoting the renewal of the Forever Wild program.
 

Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley said as of the board meeting, which was held Saturday at Lakepoint Resort State Park in Eufaula, the oil has reached 29 miles of shoreline in Louisiana but only a handful of tar balls had shown up on the Alabama shore. Two dead pelicans had been reported and they were being examined for cause of death.
 

“This is a very serious issue that could affect all of our lives,” Lawley said.
Lawley also commended Board member Dr. Wayne May of Eutaw for his effort to define “area” in the current baiting regulations that would help with enforcement of the regulation.
 

“Dr. May has worked long and hard on this difficult issue with (Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries’ Enforcement Chief) Allan Andress,” Lawley said.  “There are some groups who are saying this is legalizing baiting. It has nothing to do with legalizing baiting. It is trying to define the area where you know you can hunt and be legal. This is not an easy task.”
 

Dr. May reiterated the point that his effort to refine the regulation to make it easier for everyone to understand has been misconstrued by some.
 

“In no way do I condone hunting over bait,” Dr. May said. “Some people have misrepresented my position that the purpose of the motion was intended to relax the prohibition of hunting over bait. On the contrary, this proposes to provide clarity to the hunting public, the enforcement officers and the justices. Again, I do not condone hunting over bait.”
 

On the subject of Forever Wild, Commissioner Lawley referred to legislation passed this year that calls for no-net-loss of public hunting land. The legislation requires the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) find replacement acreage for hunting lands when existing hunting lands owned, leased or managed by the department are lost to ensure there is no net loss of land acreage available for hunting. Should current hunting land be lost, the legislation also encourages ADCNR to find replacement land that is located in the same administrative region and provides the same hunting opportunities allowed on the closed land.
 

“The way we replace those lands is Forever Wild,” Lawley said. “Forever Wild is one of the most important programs in the state. Everybody has ownership and everybody has access. Forever Wild has done a good job with the money available. We have to stretch our dollars to try to buy more land.”
 

Tim Gothard of the Alabama Wildlife Federation called on all who enjoy the outdoors to make Forever Wild a topic of conversation every day until the program is reauthorized by the Alabama Legislature.
“Forever Wild managed to make it through this session without any legislation that would divert funding,” Gothard said. “That was a success, but now we’ve got to get it across the goal line. This is an ongoing effort. It’s not time to take a vacation. We need to make Forever Wild an everyday discussion. This needs to be the topic whether we’re fishing, hunting or just sitting at the dinner table. We need to let our legislators know how important this is. We will have to do the work to get this through.
 

“We have 85 groups involved in the Protect Forever Wild Coalition. We want that to grow to 150 groups. Reach out to other organizations and businesses to get them signed up.”
 

In other public testimony, Troy Jens, a fishing guide on Lake Guntersville, asked the board to consider a reduction of the daily creel limit for black bass from 10 to five fish. Jens presented the board a petition with more than 1,000 signatures asking for the reduction.
 

“Lake Guntersville is the jewel of Alabama and the jewel of the Southeast,” Jens said. “Few other lakes can compare to Guntersville.”
 

Jens pointed out that the fishing is so good on Guntersville that fishing pressure has increased significantly from both residents and nonresident anglers due to word of mouth and media exposure.
“We want the protection for the down cycles,” he said. “Fishing is good now. Now is the time to protect the lake.”
 

Board member Raymond Jones Jr. of Huntsville asked Nick Nichols, Assistant Chief of Fisheries, to study the issue and present a report to the board before the next meeting, scheduled Feb. 5, 2011 in Montgomery.
 

In another request for additional regulations regarding fishing, Tim Herring asked the board to consider restrictions on the number of jugs, floats, limblines and trotlines anglers can use. Herring said that he often fishes lakes all over Alabama and has become concerned about the numbers and types of gear used. He also asked that any jugs that once held petroleum products to be banned.
 

“People are abandoning the equipment and it causes litter, safety issues, kills fish and contaminates the lake,” Herring said. “I’m asking for responsible use like in our neighboring states of Mississippi, Florida and Tennessee. There is no intent to ban or eliminate this type of fishing. We just need responsible use.”
 

Herring pointed out that Mississippi and Florida limit the number of jugs or floats to 25 per person, while Tennessee has limit of between 10 and 50, depending on the body of water. Herring also asked that fishermen be required to have name and address on each fishing apparatus to make it easier on enforcement to determine the source of the gear.
 

“I participate in the lake cleanups sponsored by Alabama Power and we pick up thousands of jugs with lines attached,” Herring said. “There’s not a week goes by that I don’t rescue a fish on an abandoned jug.”
 

Testimony about the trout fishing on the Sipsey Fork continued with another request for additional stocking of rainbow trout, the addition of brown trout to the stocking effort and a catch-and-release area.
Board member Grady Hartzog of Eufaula, who was charged with reporting on the trout issue, said he discussed the situation with Alabama Power, which controls the flow from Lewis Smith Dam, and he recommended no changes be made in the current regulations until the effect of improvements to the dam can be determined.
 

In other action, the board approved regulations that refine rules that affect exhibitors of wildlife (petting zoos, etc.) that will make the rules more uniform without undue economic hardship on the exhibitors.
Board member Ross Self of Gulf Shores also said the opening date of red snapper season has not been changed by the oil spill and will open on June 1. Self also said realtors along the Alabama Gulf Coast have agreed to waive all cancellation fees should the oil spill affect the area.
 

No changes were made to the seasons and bag limits previously approved by the board. Pending Commissioner Lawley’s signature, the dove season dates for the South Zone (Baldwin, Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Mobile counties) are Oct. 2-31, Nov. 25-28 and Dec. 4 through Jan. 8. The North Zone (all other counties) dates are Sept. 4 through Oct. 3, Oct. 23 through Nov. 6 and Dec. 11 through Jan. 4.




Registration for the 2010 Alabama Alligator Hunting Season Begins June 1: Number of Hunters and Counties Increases for Southeast Alabama Hunt

Alabama’s 5th regulated alligator hunting season will be held in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta August 13-16, and August 20-23; and in several Southeast Alabama counties on August 13-29. Applications for Alligator Possession Tags will be accepted only through the ADCNR website beginning June 1, at 8 a.m. Registration will end July 12, at 8 a.m.
 
Previously the Southeast Alabama alligator hunt was limited to 80 hunters. This year the number of hunters will increase to 120 and include all of Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Houston, Henry and Russell counties; including the portions of Henry, Barbour and Russell counties in the Walter F. George Reservoir at Lake Eufaula. A total of 125 tags will be issued for the Mobile-Tensaw Delta hunts, which take place in parts of Baldwin and Mobile counties. Read more.


Scoring Sessions Announced for Record White-tailed Deer Program

April 28, 2010
 

 

The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries will be holding sessions to score deer antlers this spring and summer for its Records of Alabama’s White-tailed Deer (RAWD) program.
 
The RAWD program was established to recognize exceptional bucks grown and taken in Alabama. The program is open to antlers from all free-ranging bucks legally harvested or found dead in Alabama, regardless of the year the deer was harvested or found. The antler scoring system used for the RAWD program is identical to that used by the Boone & Crockett Club. The minimum scores for the program are 140 Typical (net) and 165 Non-Typical (net). All entrants meeting the minimum requirements of the program will receive an official RAWD Certificate.
 
 
If a deer has been officially scored for Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, or Longhunter’s purposes, sportsmen can bring the official score sheet with their mount to a RAWD scoring session.  Participants should preregister prior to attending the scoring session by calling the appropriate telephone number listed below.
 
Sessions are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
 
            Date:                    May 8, 2010          Time:  9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
            Location:             Holiday Inn Express
                                         5001 Academy Lane
                                         Bessemer, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (205) 339-3939
                                                                                                                                                           
 
            Date:                     May 22, 2010        Time:  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
            Location:              USDA Service Center
                                          23952 AL Highway 55
                                          Andalusia, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (334) 347-1298
                                                                                                                                                           
  
            Date:                     June 2, 2010          Time:  10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
            Location:              Pat’s Archery & Outdoors
                                          306 Highway 118 (Old Highway 78) West
                                          Jasper, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (256) 353-2634
                                                                                                                                                           
 
            Date:                     June 2, 2010          Time:  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
            Location:              Sheffield Recreation Center
                                          2901 19th Avenue
                                          Sheffield, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (256) 353-2634
                                                                                                                                                           
 
            Date:                     June 26, 2010        Time:  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
            Location:              Academy Sports
                                          8610 Eastchase Parkway
                                          Montgomery, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (334) 347-1298
                                                                                                                                                           
 
            Date:                     July 31, 2010         Time:  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
            Location:              Swindall RV Pavilion Building
                                          162 County Road 5516
                                          Troy, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (334) 347-1298
______________________________________________________________________________
 
            Date:                     August 14, 2010     Time:  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
            Location:              WFF District I Office
                                          21453 Harris Station Road
                                          Tanner, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (256) 353-2634
                                                                                                                                                           
 
            Date:                     October 3, 2010    Time:  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
            Location:              WFF District I Office
                                          21453 Harris Station Road
                                          Tanner, Alabama
            Information and
            Pre-registration:   (256) 353-2634                                               
 
 
 
The interest in information on quality bucks harvested in Alabama led to the development of the RAWD program. The program allows Alabama’s deer hunters to have their deer scored by trained wildlife personnel. Hunters can also compare deer taken in their region to deer from other areas of Alabama, as well as other states in the Southeast. To learn more about the Records of Alabama’s White-tailed Deer program, obtain score sheets, or locate the next available scoring session, visit http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/RAWD/.
 
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.



WFF District Reorganization Compete

The Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has completed its district realignment, a move expected to save $650,000 annually. Under the realignment, the Prattville District Office was closed, and the former District IV counties have been absorbed by the remaining five districts. The updated district map and contact information can be found here.


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