The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission heard a report on preliminary harvest figures during recently completed hunting seasons at its abbreviated January 2016 meeting held in the Big Cypress Lodge at the Bass Pro Shops.
A portion of the meeting was canceled due to the impending inclement weather. Agenda items not covered this month will be continued into the TFWC’s next scheduled meeting in February in Nashville.
Wildlife and Forestry Division Chief Mark Gudlin gave an update on the deer, bear and sandhill crane hunting seasons. In addition he gave a report on updated cougar sightings.
During bear season, hunters took the state’s third highest harvest on record with at least 547. The mast crop was rated poor to fair with the plateau and area near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As a result, there were the first recorded harvests in Grainger and Hancock counties with one each. To date, the Appalachian Bear Rescue took in its second high number of bear cubs at 38.
Gudlin reported that the initial deer harvest indicates a 1.5 percent increase thus far over the 2014 totals. The report indicated a harvest of 167,235 compared to 164,932 in 2014 and an average of 167,720 deer for the previous five years. The buck harvest saw a decrease of six percent while the doe harvest had an increase of 11 percent. In 2015-16, 4,425 more hunters had a harvest than in 2014-15. The antlered harvest of 78,725 was an increase of three percent. The antlerless total was up one percent to 88,483. Anterless harvest includes does, buck dawns and bucks with less than three-inch antlers.
The public can view Tennessee hunting seasons harvest reports for deer, turkey, bear and wild hogs online. Totals are available by WMA, county or statewide.
The TFWC also was told that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has created a page on its website with information on cougars for the public. Recent cougar sightings have been confirmed at four locations in Tennessee and the agency is taking a proactive stance in making information available.
The third year of the three-year experimental sandhill crane season was held this year. A total of 400 permits (3 birds per permit) were issued for the season which ran Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-Jan. 1 in East Tennessee in a zone south of I-40 and east of Tennessee Highway 56. The harvest so far for the season was 113 birds.
Bill Reeves, chief of the Biodversity Division, reported that the TWRA has begun a process of amending the endangered or threatened species proclamation. The TWRA plans to bring the revision to the TFWC for approval in June or July 2016.
TWRA is seeking public comments for its 2016-17 hunting season regulations
This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff. The comment period will be open through Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. 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 email to [email protected] by including “Hunting Season Comments” in the subject line of the email. Comments may also be submitted by mail to:
2016-17 Hunting Season Comments
TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204