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News and notes from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

News and notes from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

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News and notes from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

Plenty going on in the Natural State this Summer

By Randy Zellers

AGFC Communications

• Lake Conway exceeds flood pool, closure of Arkansas Highway expected MAYFLOWER — The water level at Craig D.

Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir has surpassed flood stage, and is continuing to rise one foot every 24 hours. Portions of Arkansas Highway 89 are expected to be blocked by floodwater by the end of the day.

The lake is still expected to exceed 5 feet above normal pool by Friday, and additional rains may increase that total.

Although the Arkansas River at Toad Suck appears to have crested at 285.4 feet June 4, it will continue to cause flooding at Lake Conway for the next several days. The river has backed into Palarm Creek, which normally receives runoff from the lake. The water has reached 4 feet above the top of the spillway and is flowing into the lake, pushing it past flood pool.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission drew the lake down one foot prior to the river flooding, but no more releases will be possible until the water level in the Arkansas River and Palarm Creek drop enough to allow flow from the lake to resume.

There is still no way of knowing peak flood levels at this point, as this has never occurred in the history of the lake. However, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission strongly recommend any homeowner who has experienced flooding around Lake Conway in the last decade to take precautions and prepare for floodwater.

Although boating is still allowed on Lake Conway, extreme caution should be used, as the rising water may have pushed logs and other debris into existing boat lanes. The high water also may be hiding stumps and other submerged structures just under the surface, causing additional boating hazards. The AGFC asks people to be mindful of potential hazards and how boat wakes could impact adjacent property during high water.

Updates related to the flood threat around Lake Conway will be provided as conditions change and new information becomes available. Questions related to Lake Conway’s water level should be directed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Office in Mayflower at 501-470-3309.

AGFC seeks public insight on regulations LITTLE ROCK — If you’ve ever read an Arkansas Hunting or Fishing Guidebook and had to scratch your head to figure out a regulation, now is your opportunity to speak up. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is conducting a public survey to identify regulations that may be confusing or unnecessary. The survey is available online at www.agfc.com.

As part of the AGFC’s mission to manage Arkansas’s fish and wildlife habitats while promoting sustainable use and understanding of those resources, the agency is embarking on an extensive review of all wildlife and fisheries regulations in its current Code of Regulations.

As part of this review, the agency seeks public comments to determine areas where codes may be simplified to increase understanding of the law and prevent future violations in wildlife regulations.

“The entire Code of Regulations remains fairly constant, but some regulations have been adjusted over the years due to changes in technology, society and the science of wildlife management and fisheries,” said AGFC Deputy Director Chris Racey. “As these small regulations changes accumulate, they can cause confusion and may cause other regulations to become unnecessary. We are trying to eliminate these issues and are asking the public to help.”

Racey says he is hopeful hunters, anglers and other members of the general public take advantage of the opportunity to speak up about specific regulations they find confusing.

“We can’t change the spirit of the regulation or deviate from what is biologically necessary, but there are areas where we may be able to change the way it is worded for better understanding.”

The survey will be available until July 15, after which, the results will be compiled and reviewed by a committee of AGFC staff to determine where changes may be implemented.

*** CWD Management Zone expands to include Baxter, Scott and Stone counties LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has expanded the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone to include Baxter, Scott and Stone counties following the confirmation of CWDpositive deer in or near these counties during the 2018-19 deer hunting season.

AGFC biologists identified 241 new positive cases of chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer and five elk during the 2018-19 deer hunting season.

Among these were positive cases on the northern edge of Scott County and the eastern edge of Searcy County. To ensure compliance with the AGFC Code of Regulations, any county where a wild or captive cervid tests positive for CWD and any county within a 10-mile buffer of a positive CWD sample will be included under the CWD management zone regulations.

“As we continue to learn about CWD in Arkansas and determine the outer edge of the disease, we have to adjust our management zone’s boundaries in an effort to help contain the disease and slow its spread,” said Cory Gray, chief of the AGFC’s Research, Evaluation and Compliance Division.

Inclusion within the CWD Management Zone will mean new regulations concerning baiting and feeding wildlife, hunting on public and private land within these counties, and movement of harvested deer.

Supplemental feeding of wildlife is not allowed within the entire CWD Management Zone; however, baiting is allowed from Sept. 1-Dec. 31 for hunting purposes.

“Supplemental feeding and baiting of wildlife concentrates animals in close quarters, which increases the frequency of direct contact between animals and increases the chances of disease transmission,” Gray said.

Food plots may be used year-round in the CWD Management Zone as they do not concentrate deer in such close quarters as feeders, salt licks or bait piles. Certain baits also may be used for trapping and bear hunting purposes, with bear baiting allowed from 30 days before bear season opens until the end of bear season. Bear baits may only be dog food, cat food, pastries/ bread, grease, nonwildlife meat scraps, popped popcorn, fish and fish byproducts. Exceptions to this feeding and baiting rule include Incidental feeding from active livestock or normal agricultural operations as well as feeding birds and squirrels with common bird feeders and squirrel feeders.

The following wildlife management areas will be relaxed by the new regulations concerning CWD: Cedar Creek WMA, Muddy Creek WMA, Norfork Lake WMA and Sylamore WMA. Within these WMAs, button bucks will now count toward a hunter’s antlerless bag limit and antler size restrictions such as the three-point rule will be removed. These liberalizations focus additional harvest on the male segment of the herd, which is one of the best known management practices regarding disease dispersal.

Private land hunters in these counties also will see the lifting of antler restrictions and the change of button bucks from being checked as bucks to antlerless deer. Deer harvest limits also will be liberalized on private land to help lower concentrations of deer and slow the spread of the disease.

Baxter, Scott and Stone counties will be included in Tier 2 of the CWD Management Zone’s carcass movement regulations as well. Deer and elk harvested on private and public ground from these counties may not be transported intact outside of the CWD Management Zone.

Only the following lowrisk items may be taken to areas outside the CWD Management Zone:

• Antlers and cleaned skulls

• Meat with all bones removed

• Cleaned teeth

• Hides

• Finished taxidermy products Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information about chronic wasting disease in Arkansas.

AGFC offers hundreds of rods and reels to Arkansas anglers LITTLE ROCK — No rod? No reel? No problem.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has more than 100 locations where people can check out fishing equipment just as though they were checking out a library book.

“Libraries actually make up a majority of our tackle loaner locations,” said J.J.

Gladden, coordinator of the AGFC’s Aquatic Resources Education program. “We also have state parks, campgrounds, AGFC regional offices and other locations, but libraries make up the bulk of the program.”

Gladden says the tackle loaner program was created to remove as many barriers to fishing as possible.

“We hope people really take advantage of the freeto- use rods and reels available. There really is no reason not to get out and go fishing,” Gladden said.

Most of the rod-and-reel combos available for loan are easy-to-use push-button or spincast reels, which are excellent for fishing for any fish with live or prepared bait.

“Hooks, skinkers, and bobbers are really all you need to supply on your own to get started with one of these rods,” Gladden said.

“And you’ll need to buy your bait, dig your bait out of the ground like worms, or dig it out of the back of the refrigerator, like old hot dogs.”

Visit https://www.agfc.com/tackl eloaner for a list of tackle loaner locations to get started fishing.

Big Buzz Bass tournament coming to Lake Maumelle June 15 LITTLE ROCK — The fourth annual Big Buzz Bass tournament presented by Bradford Marine and ATV will be held June 15 on Lake Maumelle. This year’s tournament features more than $6,000 in prizes, including $3,000 for the winning team or angler.

The tournament will take place from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

June 15 out of West Rock Landing. Participants will take off in the order in which they register for the tournament, and all teams must return to check in no later than 2 p.m.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has partnered with Signal Media and radio station 103.7 KABZ-FM, better known as The Buzz, to assist with this year’s Big Buzz Bass tournament.

“This is a great opportunity to promote bass fishing in Arkansas,” said Ben Batten, AGFC Fisheries Division chief. “We’re excited about this partnership with The Buzz and the chance to shine a light on bass fishing and Lake Maumelle.”

Batten said the Game and Fish Commission’s partnership with The Buzz also demonstrates the commission’s renewed commitment to bass fishing and recognizes the importance of tournament bass fishing to the state’s recreational fishing landscape.

“Bass fishing is such a big part of the cultural fabric of The Natural State,” Batten said. “By partnering with the Buzz for this year’s tournament, we hope to demonstrate our commission’s commitment to bass fishing and our overall fisheries resources.”

The Big Buzz Bass tournament originally was slated for the Arkansas River, but with historic flooding taking place along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, tournament officials decided last week to move the event to Lake Maumelle.

“I’m sure some regular river fishermen will be disappointed,” said R.J. Hawk of 103.7 KABZ-FM, “but with the river forecast to remain high for several weeks, we decided it was best to take the tournament to a body of water that isn’t affected by the river flooding. And Maumelle has been producing some good limits of bass over the past couple of years, so we expect a great tournament despite the move.”

West Rock Landing is arranging for food trucks to be on site for the weigh-in on Saturday afternoon, and Mr. Bass of Arkansas will assist with the tournament weigh-in.

Entry fee is $100 per boat, which may include up to two anglers. Registration is available at BigBuzzBass.com.

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