In an attempt to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease across the state of Arkansas, the state’s Game and Fish Commission passed 12 regulations on Friday at a session in Little Rock.
The commission established a CWD Management Zone spread across 10 counties, which will contain specific deer and elk bag limits, along with antler and transportation restrictions. In addition to the creation of this zone, the state has now made it illegal to feed wildlife in the management zone with the exception of the period between Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, when the state’s hunters are allowed to use bait to attract deer. All recreational feeding during that time, however, will be prohibited.
The state’s proposed ban on rehabilitation centers, which caused some controversy, was also approved. Based on research from Missouri and Connecticut, between 76 percent and 86 percent of all rehabilitated deer returned to the wild do not survive longer than 100 days. With these statistics on hand, commission chief Brad Carner stated that the risk of spreading infection from these facilities simply remains too high.
“Seeing the prevalence rates in fawns, there’s a real risk of somebody taking in [an infected] fawn, contaminating their facility and thus contaminating every deer that comes in contact with that facility thereafter,” Carner told Arkansas Online.
The newly enacted regulations are also aimed at slowing the spread of the disease by encouraging hunters to take deer that are more likely to disperse. The new rules will allow the harvest of button bucks to be considered antlerless deer in zones 1 and 2 and these antlerless deer will not be counted toward a hunters buck bag limit. The bag limit in these zones will also be raised from four to five animals and three antlerless deer may be taken with firearms, five using archery equipment.
“We will encourage hunters to kill deer and elk that are most likely to disperse,” Carner said. “Yearling males are typically going to disperse over greater distances, and that led to us removing antler restrictions.”
The regulations were proposed back on May 19 and the commission held 11 public meetings, using the public’s perspective in creating the common sense approach to containing the deadly disease. The commission plans to now increase monitoring efforts to determine the effectiveness of these new regulations.
H/T: Arkansas Online