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WRD Regs Meeting Draws Crowd to Dalton

Hunters ask for later deer season and more doe days in north Georgia; complaints over hunting at Chattahoochee Bend dominate Jonesboro meeting.

Daryl Kirby | January 27, 2009

Close to 200 people packed the Jan. 8 WRD public meeting in Dalton to comment on hunting regulations. Most were deer hunters who want a later closing date for the Northern Zone deer season or more either-sex days in some north Georgia counties. The crowd was part of an organized effort that included ads in local newspapers inviting hunters to attend the meeting.

WRD Chief of Game Management Mark Whitney said the crowd was a surprise, and WRD was happy to see interest and participation in the process of setting hunting regulations. He said the department will take a look at the issues of the closing date for the Northern Zone and either-sex days in north Georgia.

Regarding the later closing date, Whitney said, “From a biological standpoint for deer, that would not be a big problem, other than there may be a few instances of bucks dropping antlers. But from a bigger perspective, and a social context, the issue would be a later season dipping into the small-game hunting opportunity. We know from when the December break was eliminated, small-game hunters were adamant not to lose more opportunity.”

Many small-game hunters, particularly those who use dogs, wait until after deer season to begin hunting.

“We’re looking at maybe having some public meetings later in the year. We want to make sure people are aware of it and able to give us input.

“We’re not looking at a change for this two-year cycle,” Whitney said.

The Dalton meeting was one of eight conducted by WRD across the state last month to get public input on development of hunting regulations for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 hunting seasons.

A meeting in Jonesboro on Jan. 5 attracted the attention of Coweta County officials who asked WRD to eliminate or restrict hunting on Chattahoochee Bend State Park, an undeveloped 2,910-acre state-owned tract that last season was open to public hunting for the first time under state seasons. Adjacent landowners complained of trespassing, shots fired close to their houses and other issues.

When proposing the hunting seasons on Chattahoochee Bend, the state identified the area as in need of deer-herd reduction and management.

The state’s proposal for hunting on Chattahoochee Bend State Park said: “Vegetation surveys indicate substantial browsing pressure on the vegetative community when compared to similar habitats on a comparable WMA. Additionally, this area has become inundated with illegal activity such as dumping, ATV use and poaching. Presently, this is an undeveloped state park that presents an opportunity to provide substantial hunting opportunity. Establishing hunting on this area will facilitate deer-management needs and greatly reduce illegal activity by reporting from the presence of legal hunters and the additional presence of department personnel.”

Whitney said Parks and WRD would review the Chattahoochee Bend situation, as they do after each season on all parks that conduct management hunts.

“I don’t know where we’re going to fall. We’re going to be looking at it, and we would have been looking at anyway,” Whitney said.

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