WRD Kicks Off Public Meetings With Deer Season Dates, Bears and Gators

More public meetings this week, plus a Facebook Live virtual meeting on Jan. 31 give hunters the chance to be a part of the process.

Brad Gill | January 18, 2023

Tina Johannsen, assistant chief of Game Management, hosted the WRD public meeting in Milledgeville.

Hunter turnout was light for the WRD Game Management public meeting that took place last night in Milledgeville.

Tina Johannsen, assistant chief of Game Management, led the meeting, where seven hunters, in addition to a handful of WRD biologists and DNR Law Enforcement folks, attended to hear about proposed regulation changes for the next two years. 

While there were no hot-button issues—like the changes to turkey season that were presented two years ago—there were several proposals that Tina presented to the group.

The proposed change that will affect the largest group of Georgia hunters is one that would allow southwest Georgia deer hunters in Baker, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Thomas counties a better opportunity to hunt the peak of the rut. 

“They have a late rut,” said Tina. “It impacts their ability to hunt the peak of the rut, so we’re trying to do something to help them. What we are proposing is to make the first two weeks of archery buck-only— they do have late fawn weaning. We are proposing to extend the archery season until Jan. 31 and extend firearms season until Jan. 15.”

Tina said WRD is also considering adding 100 alligator tags across the state, which would bring the total to 1,130 tags.

“We have more people wanting a chance at an alligator, some of popular zones take seven priority points, that’s a lot,” said Tina. “You can overharvest alligators and not know for 20 years, so we have to be really cautious. We can’t do a whole lot of research because it’s not funded with Pittman-Robertson funds because of a quirk in the law. We are upping it by 100, spread across nine different zones to give a little more opportunity that won’t impact the population. We would not be proposing it if we thought it would.”

Central Georgia bear hunters could get an additional day of bear hunting. However, the bonus day would only come if less than six females were killed on the first day’s hunt. The tentative dates for the central Georgia bear season would be Dec. 16, 2023 and Jan. 6, 2024.

A few other housekeeping proposals were presented:

• Clarify alligator hunters can sell a lawfully harvested hide.

• For big-game quota hunts, a hunter may bring an assistant afield.

• Add Richmond County to those counties with an extended archery season.

• Require Game Check for all three bear zones.

• Allow Northern Zone hunters to get harvested bears tagged by participating taxidermists and meat processors as well as usual locations. 

• Stipulate that bears harvested in the Southern Zone must be taken for tagging within 24 hours of harvest.

After Tina’s presentation, four comments were given by the seven in attendance. Those comments included opening duck and dove seasons later and being able to use the online license purchasing system to purchase a commercial trappers license. 

Tina and WRD biologists then fielded several questions on CWD and Game Check.

Below highlights meeting locations for the next two nights where hunters can turn out and hear from WRD. In addition, the WRD Facebook meeting was moved to Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. because of a power outage during its original planned date last week. This will also extend the public comment period until Feb. 6. Send those comments to [email protected].


2023-2025 WRD Hunting Regulations Public Input Meetings 

January 18, 2023 at 7 p.m. (two locations)

• Lumpkin County Library, 56 Mechanicsville Road, Dahlonega, GA 30533

• Liberty County Performing Arts Center, 2140 E Oglethorpe Highway, Hinesville, GA 31313

January 19, 2023 at 7 p.m. (two locations)

• Burnt Hickory Park, 8650 Cartersville Highway, Dallas, GA 30132

• Town’s Bluff Park, 45 Riverwood Trail, Hazlehurst, GA 31539

January 31, 2023 at 7 p.m. (Facebook Live)

Members of the public will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual public meeting on the Georgia WRD Facebook Page to provide input for consideration into the development of hunting regulation proposals for the 2023-2025 hunting seasons. Visit closer to the event date for more information.

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  1. garyh on January 18, 2023 at 12:57 pm

    SO, they don’t have any money for research for upping the gator tags to go on, but they are going to do it anyway because they don’t think it will hurt the population? lol Seriously?

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