WRD Hears From Hunters
Public attends meetings to dissuss Georgia hunting regulations.
The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) held a series of eight public meetings in early January to give hunters an opportunity to comment on the state’s hunting regulations before new regulations are finalized. Overall, 285 people attended the meetings.
The January 9 meeting in Athens was dominated by a recent dog-shooting incident in Clarke County (see GON, January 2007, p. 14) and the resulting efforts by some residents to ban firearms hunting in Clarke County.
More than 50 people attended the meeting, including Athens/Clarke County commissioner Doug Lowry, who at one point stood up to apologize to WRD personnel for the meeting being dominated by comments on the dog-shooting incident and told the audience he would be available after the meeting to discuss that issue. Most comments related to the Clarke County issue were from hunters who didn’t want to be penalized for the actions of one poacher. However, several residents called for a hunting ban, including one Athens man who pointed out that deer overpopulation wouldn’t be a problem because corn is reasonably priced at Wal-Mart. He also said that if deer are not hunted, they would lose their fear of humans and would begin to move into the city where people would enjoy seeing them and having them walk right up to people.
Bob White of Athens, an officer with the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), recommended a law that would exempt landowners from liability if a hunter is hurt on their property, similar to a current law that exempts landowners if a horse rider is hurt on their property.
Only 11 people showed up for the January 12 meeting in Forsyth. Many of the comments centered around deer season beginning too early in the fall.
Attorney Charles Langford suggested that global warming had changed the seasons, warming up September and October. He proposed opening day of firearms season should be moved to the first Saturday in November.
Tom Hill asked for more latitude in killing coyotes, which he said are killing significant numbers of deer in Monroe County.
Other comments at the Athens and Forsyth meetings included:
• Calls for stiffer poaching fines and more uniform fine amounts.
• Comments stating that the deer season began too early.
• A deer-a-day antlerless limit.
• No limit on does.
• Reduce the limit to one buck and two does.
• Consider allowing trapping on WMAs.
• Liberalize alligator hunting.
• Increase bowhunting opportunity at B.F. Grant WMA.
• Increase dog-training opportunity on WMAs, particularly on Joe Kurz WMA.
• Bring back the December Break in the Northern Zone firearms deer season.
• Issuing priority points for hunters not drawn for State Park hunts.
The meetings were the first step in setting the hunting regulations for the next two years. Public comment and recommendations from the WRD field staff will be forwarded to the WRD headquarters office and a regulations package will be formulated. The proposed regulations package for the next two seasons will be presented for public comment in April before going to the Board of Natural Resources for final approval in May.
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