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TWRA requests public input on proposed hunting regulations

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is now soliciting comments on the proposed 2016-17 hunting seasons’ regulations that were made at the April meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. This is an opportunity for the public to share ideas and concerns about the proposed hunting regulations with TWRA staff.

At the April meeting, Agency staff presented the TFWC Wildlife Management Committee with recommendations.

Recommendations for the 2016-17 deer seasons included simplifying antlerless regulations, allowing additional antlerless harvest during gun season, establishing two new deer harvest units and eliminating the Claiborne County special red deer hunt as there are no more known red deer, a non-native species, in the area.

There was one recommended change regarding small game hunting. During bear still hunts, small game hunters would no longer be limited to the breed of dogs they can use in the bear reserves. However, they would be limited to two dogs per vehicle.

An Agency recommendation was made to add four new private land only elk tags, including one designated for youth.  Tags would be issued for three new private land elk hunting zones within Campbell, Claiborne, Scott, Anderson and Morgan counties. The zones will facilitate implementation of the new private lands hunt. Six elk permits will again be issued for the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.

In regard to wild turkey hunting, Agency recommendations included several changes to hunts on Tennessee’s public lands. They also included lowering the bag limit for fall turkeys from six to three in 16 Middle Tennessee counties and from three to one in Lincoln and Lewis counties due to declining harvest in TWRA Region II.

Several commissioners made additional recommendations. One would increase the bag limit for the Young Sportsman Turkey Hunt from one bird for the two-day hunt to one bird per day to match the statewide daily bag and provide additional youth opportunity. Another would open the raccoon season on private lands earlier, from July 1 at sunset until sunset the Friday before Thanksgiving (when the regular season opens) and allow one raccoon per party, per night.

The commission asked the Agency to redefine antlered bucks to include all bucks with antlers, excluding male fawns (“button bucks”), as opposed to bucks with antlers greater than three inches. The new definition would result in all antlered bucks counting toward a hunter’s annual bag limit of two.

Other regulations changes were recommended. One would allow hunters to be able to provide a TWRA big game harvest documentation number in any manner (mobile phone, any written form, etc.) as opposed to being required on a TWRA-approved form. If approved, turkeys would now be required to remain whole until checked in to ensure compliance with check-in regulations. Possession of thermal imaging or other similar devices would now be illegal while in possession of a firearm or archery tackle between sunset and sunrise.

Several minor Wildlife Management Area regulations were proposed. All the proposed regulations changes can be found on the TWRA website, by clicking here.

Public comments will be considered by TWRA’s Wildlife Division staff and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes.  Comments may be submitted by mail to: 2016-17 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed by clicking here.  Please include “Hunting Season Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.

The comment period concerning the 2016-17 proposed hunting seasons regulations will be open until May 8, 2016.