Days GON By May 2018

30 Years Ago In GON: Cougars Come To Georgia

Brad Gill | May 12, 2018

Each month we turn back the clock to see what was being reported in the pages of GON, 30, 20 and 10 years ago. Here’s a look back at what appeared in GON.

30 Years Ago: May 1988
Cougars Come To Georgia: In an experiment to test whether or not north Florida’s Osceloa National Forest would be good habitat for cougars, Florida Game and Fish biologists were fixing to release five sterilized western cougars. The release site would be 10 miles from the Georgia border, and the cats were expected to make it into Georgia.

The game plan was to see if the cougars would thrive so that a re-introduction of the Florida panther would one day take place in north Florida, which was their former range. The article stated that Georgia may very well have its own population of big cats one day.

$5,000 Reward: A big payday was in store for anyone providing information leading to the identification, prosecution and conviction of the people responsible for pre-season trout poaching at Waters Creek. The $5,000 reward was being fronted by the Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited after finding the heads of 10 trophy trout along the stream.

May 1998: Jeffrey A. Clark, of Savannah, with the state-record cobia caught near the A buoy in 1985. This picture was published with a story about cobia fishing the artificial reefs.

20 Years Ago: May 1998
WRD Presents Conservative Hunt Regs Package To Board: WRD’s final recommendations for the upcoming hunting seasons went to the Board of Natural Resources. The proposed regulations that were presented were more conservative than several ideas being kicked around during the spring. The most interesting discussions that had hunters wanting to talk was when WRD started discussing eliminating deer zones and setting a standard deer season closing date the second weekend in January.

Highlights below are what was actually proposed in the 1998 package:

• Maintain the deer zone line in its current location.

• Eliminate the Northern Zone December Break and allow firearms deer hunting during that time. Close the Northern Zone firearms deer season on Jan. 1. “Filling in the December Break meets the No. 1 objective for most Northern Zone deer hunters,” WRD said. Stopping the season on Jan. 1 was considered a compromise with the interests of many small-game hunters.

• Although discussed, no special primitive-weapons season would occur.

May 2008: Jamie Smith, of Hazlehurst, found this 17-inch bass floating dead in his Jeff Davis County pond. He pulled the fish out to see what happened and discovered the fish had a 6-inch bream lodged in its gullet.

10 Years Ago: May 2008
No, It’s Not A Buzzard!: A rare black-phase or melanistic turkey was killed by Grant Barry, of Tifton. Grant was hunting in Lowndes County on April 19, 2008 with his buddy and guide Hansell Wyatt, of Valdosta, when he killed the nice gobbler with 1 1/4-inch spurs and a 12 1/4-inch beard. However, it wasn’t until later that they realized what a true trophy they had.

“The wings on this bird were totally black like a crow, with no stripes or coloration,” Grant said.

Grant had the bird mounted, and the taxidermist told him he’d never seen a bird like it.

Bovine TB Sparks Deer Slaughter In Minnesota: In 2005, Minnesota confirmed the first case of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in the northeastern portion of the state. Bovine TB is  sometimes a fatal disease that affects cattle, as well as other mammals, including deer. There is a slim chance of human infection.

Once the disease was discovered, the state eliminated infected cattle and monitored deer herds by testing hunter-harvested deer from a 954-square-mile area known as the “TB Zone.” Of 1,100 deer tested, 17 had tested positive for bovine TB.

To curb the spread of the disease, Minnesota resorted to drastic measures. USDA sharpshooters were brought in to snipe deer, and the state’s DNR hired a helicopter to kill deer from the air. Minnesota also declared open season on deer from March 31- Aug. 31 within the TB Zone. No license, limit, age or sex restrictions applied. The idea was to “significantly reduce deer-population density,” according to a Minnesota DNR release. Think this was an isolated problem? Although Michigan and California had not yet resorted to such drastic measures, they along with Minnesota, received more than $16 million in emergency federal funding for eradication of the disease.

May 2008: This rare black-phase or melanistic turkey was killed by Grant Barry, of Tifton, in Lowndes County on April 19, 2008

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