2015 Georgia Legislative Session: Harvest Recording System Coming?
SB 112 is first step toward having a system to track all deer and turkey kills. Meanwhile, Antis are coming unglued over bill to remove an arbitrary, outdated raccoon trapping line.
Most sportsmen likely haven’t noticed, but your Georgia state senators and representatives have been meeting at the capitol in Atlanta since mid January.
Lawmakers still haven’t adopted my personal belief that before any new law can be proposed they have to strike one existing law that’s overreaching or just plain stupid…
Nor have legislators done much this session that would affect sportsmen. That’s typically good news. GON has always encouraged legislators to let WRD set regulations based on sound science. Or, when biology isn’t an issue, to set regs based on what sportsmen prefer.
Harvest Recording For All Deer And Turkey Kills
A piece of proposed legislation that sportsmen should be interested in is Senate Bill 112, which would begin the process of addressing a common complaint of hunters—how do our state biologists know how many deer and turkeys are being killed?
Currently, surveys and computer models paint a picture of harvest numbers, but hunters have long said that’s not enough. According to several past GON surveys, sportsmen want a system that makes it mandatory to report all deer and turkey kills.
Modern technology makes mandatory harvest reporting feasible—both for collection of information by WRD, and by making it quite simple for sportsmen to report their kills. Other states already have enacted “Game Check” systems where hunters report their kills by phone, Internet or smartphone app.
Senate Bill 112 simply removes a section of current code from statute (a law legislators have to act on to change) and makes it regulatory (which means the DNR Board can make changes without legislative action). The result, says John Bowers, WRD’s Chief of Game Management, would be a first step in moving toward a mandatory harvest-recording system.
If SB 112 passes, it would enable DNR to set up a “Game Check” type system without going through the legislative process, where all-too-often the water gets muddied by other issues. With harvest recording, hunters would report deer and turkey harvests, and biologists would have harvest data.
House Bill 160 would amend a 50-year-old, mostly forgotten law on raccoon trapping. Although never mentioned in the state regs, trapping raccoons is actually—based on a very old, very forgotten law—illegal in and north of Carroll, Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Barrow, Jackson, Madison and Elbert counties.
HB 160 would strike that language, making it legal to trap coons everywhere during the state trapping season.
Naturally, anti-hunting, animal-rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA noticed the word trapping and felt compelled to make HB 160 a fight at the capitol.
Modern leg-hold traps, according to WRD’s John Bowers, are field-tested ad nauseam to the point animals are even x-rayed for ligament damage before the traps are put out for general use. There is no reason to have a “raccoon trapping line,” he said.
Meanwhile, two issues that GON get more comment on than any other—the deer limit and deer baiting—have not been addressed by any new legislation this year.
To track the status of legislation or to see if new bills are introduced, visit www.legis.ga.gov.
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