LITTLE ROCK, Ar. – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently passed new hunting regulations aimed at fighting the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD)
Since the first confirmed case in February – in an elk near the Buffalo River – AGFC has received thousands of comments from the public, both online and at public meetings.
“Being a hunter, we are concerned about our herds,” Matt Miller, a Newton County resident, said at an informational meeting in March.
“For me, it’s the efforts that can be taken for the prevention of spreading as much as anything,” said Boone County resident, Elaine Appel.
To date, there have been 90 confirmed cases, the majority of which have been in deer.
The plan to slow the spread starts with a 10-county management area: Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell counties.
Within that zone, the intentional feeding or baiting of deer will no longer be allowed from January to August.
“We do know that chronic wasting disease is spread through animal-to-animal contact,” says Randy Zellers, with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
“It’s very similar to flu season,” he says. “When everybody is concentrated in the same area: one person gets the flu, everybody gets the flu.”
Baiting will be allowed in the management zone from September through December, when 95-percent of the hunting harvest takes place.
Zellers says the AGFC wants to thin the population. Part of the plan is also allowing bucks with less than three antler points, known as the “three-point rule,” to be shot by hunters.
“[Young bucks] are the most likely to spread during hunting season because the rut is going on,” he says, “the dominate bucks will push those yearlings out.”
Landowners within the zone will also be able to apply for additional hunting tags, however they will be required to submit the necessary parts of the deer for testing.
A similar measure will be required for elk. Elk found outside the core area: Boone, Carroll, Newton and Searcy counties, can be shot without a tag. Part of the animal will also have to be submitted for testing.
“This is not something that we’re going to eradicate in a couple of years and go back to business as usual. This is the new standard of business,” Zellers says.
For more information about the new regulations, including rules for transporting deer, go to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website.