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Excess Sandhill Crane Hunting Permits Available Oct. 16

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; October 14, 2013:

NASHVILLE — Leftover permits from Saturday’s drawing to participate in Tennessee’s first sandhill crane hunt will be available on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the four regional offices of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

There are 134 permits available following Saturday’s hand-held permit drawing held at the Birchwood Community Center in north Hamilton County. The remaining permits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the four TWRA regional offices beginning at 9 a.m. EDT in Region IV and 8.a.m CDT at the three other regional offices.

The regional offices are located in Jackson (I), Nashville (II), Crossville (III), and Morristown (IV).

A total of 400 permits were available for the initial draw. Each permit carries a limit of three birds. Participants must have a Type 001 hunt/fish license plus a Type 005 waterfowl license or equivalent.

All sandhill crane permit holders must pass an internet-based crane identification test before hunting. All permits issued are not valid until a verifiable “Sandhill Test” validation code is written on the permit. The purpose of this test is to improve hunter’s awareness and ability to distinguish between sandhill cranes and protected species which may be encountered while hunting. The test is now available online.

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established a limited sandhill crane hunting season for a designated area in East Tennessee. The sandhill crane hunting season begins with the late waterfowl season on Nov. 28 and runs through Jan. 1, 2014.

TWRA Announces Closure of Federal Public Lands in TN

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; October 1, 2013:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is informing sportsmen that due to the federal governmental shutdown on Oct. 1, several federal public lands have been impacted.

All Tennessee national wildlife refuges, including Tennessee and Cross Creeks, are now closed. The permitted hunts will be canceled and the refuges will be closed to all public use. All refuge boat ramps are closed and refuges are closed to all fishing.

All refuge roads, observation decks, and hiking trails are closed to all access. All refuge offices and visitor centers are closed.

Land Between the Lakes remains open to hunting, back country camping, and hiking. However, all facilities that are normally staffed are closed. The process of evacuating all paid campgrounds is underway. The visitor centers are closed. Persons in need of a hunting permit will need to purchase those online or at a license agent other than the LBL visitor centers.

In regard to other areas, Fort Campbell hunting and fishing remains open at this time. Big South Fork is closed to the public. On both the North and South units of the Cherokee National Forest, all gates that are open will remain open although some campgrounds and restroom facilities may not be available.

The closures have come due to the lapse in appropriated funds, affecting all public lands managed by the Department of the Interior (National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management facilities, etc.). For more information, FAQs, and updates, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.

Persons interested in visiting federal lands and facilities are advised to monitor media outlets for further and updated information.

TWRA Seeking Public Comments on 2014-15 Fishing Regs

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; August 26, 2013:

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Fisheries Division announced its proposed 2014-15 sport fish and commercial fishing regulation changes during the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s August meeting. TWRA Fisheries Division Chief Bobby Wilson made the proposals at the Aug. 22-23 meeting of the TFWC held in Knoxville.

The public is invited to provide comments on the 2014-15 proposals. The comment period for the commercial fishing regulations will be until Sept. 18. The deadline for the sport fishing comments is Oct. 10. Comments may be sent to TWRA.Comment@tn.gov, or TWRA, Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. Please include “2014 Fish Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.

The TFWC will vote on the commercial fishing proposals at its Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville. The sport fish regulations will be voted on the TFWC’s meeting to be held Oct. 17-18 in Kingsport. If approved, the changes would become effective March 1, 2014.

2014-15 Sport Fishing Proposals:

Statewide:

Crayfish: Proposal would establish the harvest of crayfish as food. Currently, crayfish may be taken from most waters except for those already restricted under the live bait proclamation.

Region I:

Kentucky Lake: Increase the minimum length on sauger from 14 to 15 inches.
Maples Creek and Brown’s Creek lakes: Decrease the minimum length limit on crappie from 10 to 8 inches.

Region II:

Woodhaven Lake (Montgomery Bell State Park): Remove the no harvest restriction on largemouth bass, allowing 5 bass per day with no length limit. (same as statewide)

Region III:

Caney Fork Watershed (Center Hill Reservoir, Great Falls Reservoir, Calfkiller, Collins, Caney Fork, and Rocky rivers): Increase the minimum length on muskellunge from 36 to 50 inches.

Big Lost, Goforth, Spring, Greasy, Tumbling, and Turtletown creeks (Polk County): All these creeks will be closed on Friday from March 1 through June 1 (previously July 1).
Cherokee Reservoir: Change the paddlefish snagging season from March 1-15 to April 1-15.

Fort Loudoun, Melton Hill, and Chilhowee reservoirs: Change walleye and sauger restrictions. Currently walleye and sauger have a 15-inch minimum length limit with a creel limit of 10 in combination. The new regulations will follow the statewide regulation for each species (walleye 5 per day, 16-inch length limit; sauger 10 per day, 15-inch minimum length limit).

Rocky Fork: Define the Wild Trout Regulation section as upstream of Rocky Fork Road and State Park Entrance Road Junction.

2014-15 Commercial Fishing Proposals:

Define and add Beech River to the Rivers Section that is open to commercial fishing. This area is currently open but the description is not clear.

Add “turtle traps” to the list of gears that will be allowed to be fished in the creeks and and embayments on Kentucky Lake in April and May.

List the 14 species of turtles are currently allowed to be harvested at the Reelfoot La

Delete the word “inlet” from the description of closed areas.

Define the season for turtle harvests as the months of March through October.

Change hoop net definition to allow for the use of hoop nets with a mesh size of 1 inch and larger and not allow the use of wings or leads. Also, there will no longer be a closed season on using hoop nets. In addition, restrict the mesh size on wings and leads to one inch or smaller for fyke nets, tap nets, and pound nets.

Feds, States Reach Agreement on TVA Trout Hatchery Operations

Press release from the Tennessee Valley Authority; May 17, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and representatives from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced Friday a new agreement that will continue popular trout stocking programs in reservoirs and tailwaters of certain TVA dams across the region.

TVA will provide more than $900,000 per year for the next three years to support federal fish hatchery operations that provide the trout for stocking. During the three-year timeframe, per an agreement signed by the four agencies, a working group will be formed with key stakeholders who benefit from the recreation-based trout stocking to identify a long-term funding source.

Currently, non-native trout stocked near some of TVA’s dams are raised at three federal fish hatcheries operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, Tenn.; Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tenn.; and Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Ga.

“Closing Dale Hollow and Erwin would have been a disaster for 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who bought fishing licenses last year,” Alexander said. “Dale Hollow helps make Tennessee’s rivers and lakes among the most prized trout fisheries in our country. And the Erwin hatchery provides brood stocks for fishing waters across the country.”

The trout are provided to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources for stocking in the colder water of the reservoirs and tailwaters of the TVA dams. TVA supports the stocking programs by enhancing aquatic habitat through oxygenation systems, foregoing electric generation and providing minimum river flows to help adequately maintain cooler water temperatures. However, in most of the waters, the trout cannot naturally reproduce, requiring regular stocking to maintain fishable populations.

“TVA is voluntarily providing three years of stewardship funding for trout hatchery operations because the agencies involved understand the importance of stocked trout waters to recreation, tourism and local economies,” said Joe Hoagland, TVA senior vice president of Policy and Oversight. “At the same time, the working group being formed to look at ongoing, sustainable funding is critical given TVA’s focus on keeping electric rates low and the budget challenges of all the participating agencies.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service greatly appreciates TVA’s dedicated funding for the next three years,” said Cindy Dohner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional director for the Southeast. “We also are encouraged by the commitment by all the agencies to develop a long-term, sustainable funding source for this important conservation, recreational, and economic activity for our citizens.”

Through this three-year hatchery funding agreement, trout will continue to be stocked for recreational fishing in reservoirs or tailwaters at 12 TVA dams in Tennessee and Georgia: Apalachia Dam on the Hiwassee River; Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River; Cherokee Dam on the Holston River; Ft. Patrick Henry Dam on the South Fork Holston River; Normandy Dam on the Duck River; Norris Dam on the Clinch River; Ocoee Dam No. 1 on the Ocoee River; South Holston Dam on the South Fork Holston River; Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River; Tims Ford Dam on the Elk River; Watauga Dam on the Watauga River; and Wilbur Dam on the Watauga River.

“The funding of the federal hatchery operations is vital to our agency’s ability to meet the demand for quality trout fishing in Tennessee,” said Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Their continued operation will help continue providing a tremendous recreational activity to thousands of Tennesseans. An associated but very important side benefit is the significant economic boost to local businesses associated with the fishing and outdoor industry.”

“The Blue Ridge Dam-Toccoa River project is a critical trout fishery for our citizens and the economy of the area,” said Dan Forster, director of the Wildlife Resources Division for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “This agreement provides an important step in addressing the long-term continuation of trout production and stocking associated with this fishery.”

Details on the trout hatchery funding working group are currently being developed. The agencies will be seeking representation, ideas and input from angling groups, local and regional businesses, tourism organizations and the local governments that realize the direct and indirect benefits of having fishable trout waters in their communities.

“This is good news for Tennessee fishermen,” Alexander said of the hatchery agreement. “TVA has helped make sure Tennessee’s rivers and lakes will remain among the most prized trout fisheries in our country.”

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; May 17, 2013:

NASHVILLE, May 17—U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced an agreement between TVA and federal and state wildlife agencies that he said will keep open hatcheries that produce 60 percent of the trout stocked in Tennessee rivers and lakes.

During a press conference at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency headquarters, the senator said that budget woes have threatened to close both the Dale Hollow and Erwin national fish hatcheries. The senator credited TVA’s participation in a three-year agreement with federal and state wildlife agencies with keeping the hatcheries open while a permanent solution is being negotiated.

“Closing Dale Hollow and Erwin would have been a disaster for 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who bought fishing licenses last year. Dale Hollow helps make Tennessee’s rivers and lakes among the most prized trout fisheries in our country. The Erwin hatchery provides brood stocks for fishing waters across the country.”

For several years Alexander has helped provide funds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget to purchase trout from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to mitigate the loss of fish caused by Corps dams. He is the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Corps. TVA will also mitigate for the loss of fish on the Tennessee River system.

Alexander said this had been a week of “good news for Tennessee fishermen.” On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed his legislation that would delegate to state wildlife agencies enforcement of safety regulations below Corps of Engineers Dams on the Cumberland River. The senator said he expected the Corps would work with state agencies to create “reasonable regulations that prohibit fishing while water is spilling through the gates of the dams 20 per cent of the time, but allow fishing with appropriate precautions the rest of the time.”

The senator was joined at the press conference by Joe Hoagland, TVA’s senior vice president of policy and oversight; Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; Cindy Dohner, regional director, southeast region, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Dan Forster, director, wildlife resources division, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

TWRA Announces 2013-14 Wildlife Calendar Photo Contest Winners

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; May 1, 2013:

NASHVILLE — The winning entries for the 2013-14 Tennessee Wildlife magazine photo contest have been selected by staff members of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The selections will be unveiled in the annual calendar issue of the magazine which will be available in early July.

The staff selected the winning photographs from hundreds of submissions and had the challenge to narrow the entries to 13 photos that will appear in the calendar issue. The 2013-14 calendar issue will begin with the month of August.

The photographers, who have entries that will appear in the 2013-14 calendar, are Rhonda McClure (Kingston), Cecil (Cal) Calloway (Murfreesboro), David Mayes (Pulaski), Bruce Cole (Kingsport), Ryan Yoder (Maryville), Ralph Hensley (Hiltons, Va.), Sam Hobbs (Goodspring), and John Hoffman (Memphis).

The staff of Tennessee Wildlife offers congratulations to all of our winners and reminds photographers that if your photo was not chosen this year, your next year’s entry could be a winner. Rules and deadlines for the 2014-15 Tennessee Wildlife photo contest will appear in the fall and winter issues of the magazine and also in the fall on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website, www.tnwildlife.org. Photographers will again be invited to submit their best photos on fishing and wildlife species native to the Volunteer State, and fishing and hunting scenes in Tennessee.

Tennessee Wildlife is an official publication of the TWRA.

TWRA Seeking Public Comments on 2013-14 Hunting Season Regulations

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; January 16, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is soliciting comments for its 2013-14 hunting seasons’ regulations. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff.

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: 2013-14 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to twra.comment@tn.gov. Please include “Hunting Season Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.

The comment period concerning the 2013-14 hunting season regulations began on Jan. 15, 2013 and will be open until Monday, Feb. 25.

TN Fish, Wildlife Commission Returns to 2-Day Meeting Format for 1st Meeting of 2013

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; January 14, 2013:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet Jan. 17-18 at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building with a variety of items.

The commission meeting is returning to the traditional two-day format from a one day meeting that was previously announced at the final meeting of 2012. The commission meeting will open with committee meetings at 1 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 17) while the formal session is at 9 a.m. on Friday (Jan. 18).

Among the agenda items on the first meeting of the year will be a report of the wild hog control season on Catoosa WMA by TWRA Region III Wildlife Program Coordinator Kirk Miles. The report will include participation estimates and the number of hogs that have been taken.

The Tennessee black bear hunting season recently concluded. The commission will hear a summary of the 2012 season.

A history of the TWRA’s big game check-in process will be made. The check-in system provides TWRA biologists accurate and useful harvest information. In addition to providing the harvest data, the check-in system also attempts to make the check-in process user friendly and satisfy the needs of sportsmen.

Prior to the commission meeting, a public meeting is being held (Tuesday, Jan. 16) concerning the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed closure of tailwaters on the Cumberland River and its tributaries to boating traffic. An overview of the meeting will be given. The TWRA was voiced opposition to the closure.

The TWRA, in cooperation with other agencies, began a reintroduction of the lake sturgeon to the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Jason Henegar, TWRA Statewide River and Streams Coordinator, will report results from the monitoring effort that have generated data about fish growth, movement patterns and survivability.

In other agenda items, there will be a presentation from the public regarding an off-highway vehicle program.

Don King, TWRA Information and Education Division Chief, will have a preview of the recently completed Charlie Daniels Public Service Announcements. Kirk Miles will give a preview of the 2013 Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival to be held Jan. 19-20 at the Hiwassee Refuge.

TWRA to Offer Boating Safety Class at Nashville Boat & Sportshow

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; January 8, 2012:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is offering a boating safety class in conjunction with the 2013 Nashville Boat and Sportshow on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Nashville Convention Center.

The class will be held from 8 a.m. until noon in room 102 of the convention center. Participants must have a Type 600 Exam Permit which cost $10 and can be purchased wherever hunting and fishing licenses are available. Participants must bring the permit with them to the class. Only Tennessee residents born after Jan. 1, 1989 need to purchase the Type 600 permit. Those who complete the course will be admitted to the Nashville Boat and Sportshow free of charge.

During the class, general information will be provided concerning boats and maintenance along with how to make the boating experience safer and more comfortable. Laws and regulations that must be followed and tips on being a more courteous vessel operator will also be given. The information typically applies to all vessels (powerboats, personal watercraft, and unpowered vessels such as canoes, sailboats, etc.).

Space will be limited for the class. Registration may be made by going to the Nashville Boat and Sportshow website (www.nashvilleboatshow.com) under the show highlights section.

The TWRA will again have an exhibit at this year’s show and it will be located in booth 119. Beginning on Friday afternoon, Jan. 11, and continuing through the show’s conclusion on Sunday, Jan. 13, the TWRA will be pre-selling 2013-14 hunting and fishing licenses as well as offering the opportunity for boating registration renewal. The show begins on Thursday, Jan. 10.

State Looks to Lease Fields for 2012 Dove Season

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; August 13, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking fields to lease for the upcoming 2012 dove season. The first phase of dove season opens at noon on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Mourning doves are a popular game bird and one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America. More mourning doves are harvested than all other migratory bird species combined in 39 of the continental states. In Tennessee, about 40,000 hunters harvested approximately 300,000 mourning doves last year.

Landowners can earn up to $3,000 for providing a dove field for public hunting. These fields must be available for a minimum of three priority hunt dates in September.

TWRA began its leased dove field program in the late 1980s and the program has been very successful in providing quality hunting opportunities for hunters. In addition to leased fields, many public dove fields are provided on wildlife management areas in each TWRA region. The TWRA website has specific information about WMAs and leased dove fields in each region.

The standard fall leased field is a harvested grain or millet/hay field to which TWRA leases the hunting rights for three priority dates. Rates paid to landowners for traditional fall leased fields will be $75 per acre for a maximum field size of 40 acres for a total contract of $3,000 per field. These fields will be signed up by Sept. 1.

Anyone interested in leasing a dove field to TWRA should contact their TWRA regional office. The TWRA has four regional offices across the state that interested landowners can contact: Region I (West Tennessee) 731-423-5725 or toll free 1-800-372-3928; Region II (Middle Tennessee) 615-781-6622 or toll free 1-800-624-7406; Region III (Upper Cumberland) 931-484-9571 or toll free 1-800-262-6704; Region IV (East Tennessee) 423-587-7037 or 1-800-332-0900. For additional information, contact Tim White, TWRA Migratory Game Bird Program Coordinator at (615) 781-6610.